Shannon Long's Top 32 finishat YCS Ft. Worth last weekend stirred up online discussion thanks to his deck choice: a relatively pure build of Mekk-Knights.

Unlike other successful Mekk-Knight players this year, Long's build wasn't a hybrid of Mekk-Knights and Invoked. Instead, he focused much more on his actual Mekk-Knight line-up and the World Legacy cards that support it. It'san interesting change of pace that highlights just how powerful the Mekk-Knight theme can be even without the added card economy and negation power of the Invoked engine. Long's tech choices made all the differencehere, and there's at least one card in his build that I've never seen played before.

So why Mekk-Knights? The Mekk-Knight strategy's built around the theme's incredible pacing and its negation power with World Legacy's Secret.Mekk-Knight Purple Nightfall and Mekk-Knight Blue Sky can rapidly build card advantage and flood the field under the right conditions. At the veryleast both Purple Nightfall and Blue Sky are self-replacing Link Materials ,and they're strong enough to seriously threaten your opponent during theBattle Phase.

Both monsters were popular tech choices a few years ago, but now they're largely exclusive to Invoked variants with a small Mekk-Knight line-up. A larger line-up with more Mekk-Knight names lets Blue Sky reach its potential as an immediate +2 to card economy, and evenInvoked builds from earlier this year were running more Mekk-Knights than usual.

DECKID=110124

Long's Mekk-Knight line-up included the usual mix of Purple Nightfall andBlue Sky, but he also played one copy each of Mekk-Knight Yellow Star,Mekk-Knight Red Moon, and Mekk-Knight Green Horizon. While Yellow Star andRed Moon have seen plenty of play in the past for their removal effects it's exceedingly rare for Green Horizon to show up in a Mekk-Knight deck these days.

Long's build doesn't have much staying power without access to hisMekk-Knights. He didn't have the luxury of leaning on another theme – likeInvoked – to do the heavy lifting if he somehow ran out of monsters. GreenHorizon's ability to recycle Mekk-Knights in the graveyard gave Long a bit more longevity in his strategy and let him mitigate the discard costs o fMekk-Knight of the Morning Star, which plays a more central role in his build.

Naturally, Long played two copies of Mekk-Knight Indigo Eclipse to combo with World Legacy's Secret and World Legacy Key. I've always believed thatSecret was the defining reason to play a pure Mekk-Knight strategy: thedeck has great pacing and a couple of good removal effects, but it's ultimately missing disruption outside of the supporting World Legacy cards.World Legacy's Secret is the best of the bunch, and by properly positioning his Mekk-Knights Long could negate every one of his opponent's monsters.

Indigo Eclipse is especially important because it can change Main MonsterZones once per turn, and combined with Secret's own Special Summon andWorld Legacy's Memory there were plenty of ways for Long to counter monst ereffects by Summoning a Mekk-Knight to the same column – even during his opponent's turn.

World Legacy Secret is very strong, but it's only searchable with a smallnumber of mostly off-theme cards. Ib the World Chalice Justiciar is alreadya popular pick for searching World Legacy Guardragon, and it can alsosearch any other World Legacy card. I've experimented with SouleatingOviraptor as a 1-card Level 5 Synchro Summon in dedicated Mekk-Knightbuilds in the past, but Long decided not to go that route. Instead heplayed two copies of Mekk-Knight of the Morning Star in his Extra Deck, andbuilt his Main Deck around Summoning it as soon as possible.

Specializing To Build Columns
The Summoning mechanic of Mekk-Knight monsters adds an extra challenge todeck building, but thanks to recent releases the process of lining upcolumns has become much easier.

One of Long's tactics was to Summon a monster to a Main Monster Zone, thenuse it as a material for a Link 1. Setting a spell or trap in the samecolumn would create an open space to Summon a Mekk-Knight from the hand. Hehad a few options there: he could trade Mekk-Knight Avram for Link Spider,Thousand-Eyes Restrict was a target for Linkuriboh, and he. Could exchangeIpiria for Salamangreat Almiraj. That last card, Ipiria, probably isn't oneyou're familiar with. It's a bit like a retrain of Sacred Crane, but itsdraw effect activates any time it's Summoned.

Ipiria's easily the coolest tech in Long's build. Its draw effect meansit's always replacing itself, and digging deeper into the deck couldactually let Long draw into a World Legacy's Memory or another Mekk-Knightmonster. There are dozens of monsters that could potentially fill that role– including Sangan – but none of them give as much immediate benefit for solittle effort. Ipiria can even sneak in a draw against Mystic Mine, andthat might have been enough for Long to find a copy of Galaxy Cyclone orPaleozoic Dinomischus to break out from under the Field Spell's effect.

Instant Fusion's still very much a must-play for Mekk-Knights thanks to theinsane value of Thousand-Eyes Restrict, and it's totally playable – if lesseconomical – when going first. Constructing that initial column can eatinto your resources, but both Ipiria and Thousand-Eyes Restrict canmitigate that cost by drawing cards or stealing monsters. Long's other techchoices built columns on the opponent's side of the field, whichhelped him remove potentially dangerous monsters that Mekk-Knight Red Mooncouldn't deal with.

Long's copies of Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju helped him constructcolumns that would even trigger Mekk-Knight Blue Sky's search effect. Hecould choose which zone he wanted to Summon Gameciel to regardless of wherethe tributed monster was, and that let him set up at least one search withBlue Sky while simultaneously eliminating a problematic monster. There areplenty of threats that Mekk-Knights just aren't equipped to deal with, butGameciel's 2200 ATK makes it an easy target for Purple Nightfall or IndigoEclipse.

#####CARDID=25316#####

It's rare to see Nibiru, the Primal Being in the Main Deck, but Long'sstrategy can easily use Nibiru even beyond Turn 1. Mekk-Knight PurpleNightfall's search effect will take it, or another Mekk-Knight monster, offthe field for a turn and saves it from Nibiru's effect. When playing secondLong could patiently Summon and activate Purple Nightfall, or even BlueSky, then end his turn to bait his opponent into making more Summons. Longwould lose nothing or close to it, while still resolving his importantsearch effects. It was a great backup whenever his opponents would manageto break through his defenses, and he could recover his lost monsters withMekk-Knight Green Horizon's effect or with World Legacy's Secret.

The Primal Being Token Summoned by Nibiru's effect actually helped Longbuild columns and trigger the effect of Mekk-Knight Blue Sky. Long had acrazy amount of control over his opponent's field thanks to both Nibiru andGameciel, and his removal effects also guided his opponent to stick tospecific columns. Long's tech choices – and to an extent his deck choice –would indicate that he always wanted to play second. Fantastical DragonPhantazmay would help him build even more card advantage against the game'sbiggest Link combo strategies like Orcusts and Salamangreats, and itprotected his Turn 2 Special Summons from hand traps and InfiniteImpermanence.

Long could just as easily play first in the duel, whether by choice or asdecided by his opponent. Setting up a Turn 1 lock with World Legacy'sSecret is deceptively powerful, and by loading Mekk-Knight Indigo Eclipseinto the graveyard he could negate at least two of his opponent's monstereffects before activating a single hand trap. Placing a Mekk-Knight in thesame column as the Extra Monster Zones would prevent Orcusts from launchingtheir best combos, and it forced them to burn resources to break Long'sset-up. In the meantime Long's other disruption effects – namely his handtraps and Nibiru – were waiting to pick apart anything that made it throughthe initial gauntlet.

When play passed to Long again he would unleash the massive Summoning powerof Mekk-Knights by rapidly filling his field with monsters. Thanks to drawpower from Phantazmay and Ipiria he'd have plenty of Mekk-Knights to choosefrom, and resolving a single Blue Sky would triple his field presence. HisRank 8 Extra Deck monster of choice, Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon, could stealan opponent's monster and raise its ATK to 3000.

After that Long could upgrade Cipher Dragon to either Galaxy-Eyes FullArmor Photon Dragon to destroy a face-up card, or Galaxy-Eyes Cipher BladeDragon to destroy any card. Both Xyz Monsters have similar effects, butFull Armor Photon Dragon has greater ATK, and Cipher Blade Dragon comeswith a recycling effect when destroyed by battle or card effect.

Seeing Mekk-Knights make the Top Cut of a YCS event is a real testament tothe power of the Mekk-Knight engine when it's properly supported by theright tech. Long's hand traps, removal effects, and column-builders likeIpiria made all the difference in his success at YCS Ft. Worth. He was ableto overcome the missing Invoked engine and succeed without its help, whichgave him enough room to try many of those tech choices in the first place.Ultimately his build is better prepared for playing second, and still justas effective when playing first.

Until next time then

-Kelly