How's it going TCGplayers? This week I'd like to step away from the big three decks of the current format (Mermails, Dragons, Fire Fist) and focus on a strategy that's quickly won over my heart: Bujins.

Another archetype fueled by the power and consistency of Fire Formation - Tenki, Bujins are one of the heaviest control decks we've seen in a long while. Sticking one monster on the field and keeping it there, Bujins rarely achieve OTK's, but that's alright! Much like Evilswarm, Bujins seek to take control of the field and slowly pick away at your opponent, so taking an extra turn or two to win the game is almost negligible. Let's start by taking a look at two of the successful builds from YCS Sao Paulo.

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First let's examine the monster lineup. Everything begins and ends with Bujin Yamato. Yamato's the monster you want to protect the most as it's the main source of your card advantage: during each End Phase it lets you search your deck for any Bujin monster and then discard a card. Yamato gets you to all of your different support Bujins, and boy are there a lot of them!

Yamato's support crew comes in the form of Bujin Mikazuchi. This Beast-Warrior from Shadow Specters works great alongside your star player; during the End Phase after you've added a Bujingi to your hand and yarded another one with Yamato, you can then use Mikazuchi's effect to search Bujincarnation. While Bujincarnation's the only Bujin spell or trap that's worth searching with Mikazuchi right now, the ability to search an extra power card becomes incredibly potent as the game drags on. Also remember that you can activate Mikazuchi's effect during your opponent's End Phase as well should you happen to discard a Bujingi Crane to defend your monster, or should you discard a Bujin to pay the discard cost of something like Raigeki Break, Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, or Divine Wrath.

Mikazuchi's also got a secondary effect that lets you Special Summon it if one of your Bujins should happen to fall in battle. While that won't always be relevant – if one of your Bujins is destroyed you're probably already behind – Mikazuchi can come in as a last-second defender if needed. You can also feel free to include a Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear to give your Fire Formation – Tenki more range, effectively turning it into removal in a pinch.

The star support is Bujingi Crane; similar to Honest in that you can activate it during the damage step, Crane doubles the ATK of your monster, almost guaranteeing that you'll win a battle. The fact that you can use it in the damage step makes it incredibly difficult for your opponent to respond to, and alongside Forbidden Lance ensures your Yamato lives to see another day.

Next up are the protection monsters, Bujingi Turtle and Bujingi Hare. Both can be activated during either player's turn by banishing them from the Graveyard: Turtle negates a targeted effect, stopping cards like Dimensional Prison and Effect Veiler; Hare gives one-time protection for the turn from either battle or destruction by card effects. Between the two and with Crane in your hand for backup, you have a nigh impenetrable defense to protect your monster. Turtle and Hare are best run as two-ofs because you don't really want to draw them and you can easily get them into your Graveyard with Yamato.

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Next we come to the one-ofs, Bujingi Centipede and Bujingi Quilin. These Beasts act as additional forms of removal with Centipede clearing away a backrow card while Quilin can get rid of any face-up, be it a monster or a spell or trap. Quilin's an especially powerful one-of as it clears away any major threat without having to expend a defensive boost such as Forbidden Lance or Bujingi Crane. I've gone back and forth on Centipede the most, since you don't always need to worry about your opponent's backrow, especially if you're running the Royal Decree variant of Bujins alongside your three copies of Mystical Space Typhoon.

Side By Side
The biggest difference between these two Bujin builds is found in the Spell lineup, and the use or absence of Kaiser Colosseum. Playing right into the wheelhouse of the Bujin strategy, as most of the time you really only have one monster on the field, Kaiser Colosseum supports your Bujin Yamato, Bujintei Susanowo, or Bujintei Kagutsuchi. While the Colosseum isn't as effective against Fire Fists, it's an outright trump against Mermails which need to put several monsters on the field to fuel their powerful Xyz. I'm in the Colosseum camp myself, but it's easy to understand the arguments against it: it eats up deck slots which you could use for additional protection, and with Fire Fists being such a huge part of the field, devoting nearly a tenth of your deck to a potentially dead card can be a major problem in any tournament that lasts longer than eight rounds.

Bujincarnation's arguably the most powerful card in the deck. While its activation restriction is somewhat counterintuitive – you need to not have a monster on the field to play it – it's your biggest chance at a comeback. But Bujincarnation's incredibly versatile because their effects aren't negated; you can grab back a Yamato and a Graveyard support card like Hare or Turtle that was removed to reuse again, or you can even Special Summon Bujintei monsters to go on the offensive. Also remember that you aren't limited to just Xyz Summoning Bujintei, you can easily make Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Tiger King, Constellar Omega (and then into Constellar Ptolemy M7), or Diamond Dire Wolf. It pays to be aware of all of the different uses that this card offers!

Now for awhile the version of Bujins that became the most powerful used tons of Forbidden spell cards alongside Royal Decree to keep your monsters safe while locking your opponent out of any kind of defense. But recently, as evidenced by the duelists at YCS Sao Paulo, Bujin players have gone towards a more Trap-focused build. Cards like Mirror Force, Fiendish Chain, and Bottomless Trap Hole are great ways to ensure your monster stays on the field!

Side Deck Tech
Now like many of my favorite decks, Bujins can Side Deck a myriad of different cards as not much affects their overall strategy. Judging by both of the these highlighted decks, each duelist chose to take a different route in terms of their Side Deck strategy. Evandro Cassio Cruz had plenty of lock-down trap cards with DNA Surgery and Vanity's Emptines, as well as a Thunder King Rai-Oh for opposing Tenki decks and Spellbooks. Closed Forest is a nod to all the new support Gravekeeper's received in Legacy of the Valiant, as well as being potent against Harpies and Spellbooks. Malevolent Catastrophe and Royal Decree are great at shutting down backrow, with the other option being the popular Full House.

Galo Guillermo Orber Davila eschewed those lockdown cards in favor of more individually versatile choices. Black Horn of Heaven, Maxx "C", and Debunk are great against Mermails and Dragon Rulers big plays. Full House and Dust Tornado are for Fire Fists, as shutting off your opponent's Fire Formation - Tenki is critical for the matchup. Mind Crush is a card that Cruz felt was powerful enough to Main Deck, and I don't blame him. Incredibly powerful against Mermails, Mind Crush is great against really any deck as consistency relies on searching, which Mind Crush absolutely crushes (ha).

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You also shouldn't underestimate the versatility of the Rank 4 Xyz that Bujins can Summon. Like I highlighted last week with Fire Fists, there are plenty of powerful threats in the Rank 4 slot right now from Evilswarm Exciton Knight to Number 101: Silent Honor ARK. Although Bujin duelists have to Special Summon those cards the hard way, they're extremely powerful and they can quickly swing a duel in your favor. Also, beware the dreaded Bujintei Susanowo backed by an Honest which can not only clear entire fields, but kill you in the process.

Well that's all I have for this week! A new Forbidden and Limited list is quickly approaching and with it come a host of new changes that are sure to shake up the format! As always, happy playtesting and remember to think outside the box!

~Joe Soto
Invictus