Of all the columns I write, Down But Not Out is one of the toughest to approach.That's because when cards are released from their Forbidden or Limitedstatuses, it's often at a time when the deck they support are already wellpast obscurity.

Case in point today? Elemental Hero Stratos hasn't been back long enoughfor us to fully gauge if flashes in the pan have real staying power. Butthe best example in terms of dueling history might have come withGeargiagear and Spellbook of Fate. When both were changed from Limited toUnlimited I thought we'd see a stronger tournament showing from at leastone of those decks moving forward after November 2015's changes in the TCG.But it wasn't even close.

Those decks were gone basically forever. So if I can tweak a deck to bringit back from the black morass and let it regain some of its former glory,then I know I've done my job.

For a small window in competitive Yu-Gi-Oh, ABC-Dragon Buster decks werethe strategy to beat. But with Burning Abyss, PSY-Frames,Paleozoics and Metalfoes taking up the spotlight ABC's went out the windowalmost as quickly as they arrived. That said the deck's had its revivals,and just since ABC-Buster Dragon looks so cool I never really gaveup on it myself. I think a modern revisiting could be in order.

Yes, A-Assault Core was Limited for a brief time, but it's not like ABC'swere dominant before that Limiting anyways, or even after A-Assault Corecame back to three. I'd argue that the deck still has some neat tricks anda solid powerhouse in ABC-Dragon Buster though, and as a budget deck thatserves as an easy-to-learn point of entry to the game it occupies anarguably important place in Yu-Gi-Oh! today.

Thankfully the deck hasn't lost much in terms of consistency or power. Thetwo biggest cards that have fallen off the map are Knightmare Goblin, nowForbidden, and Terraforming which is now Semi-Limited. The first loss iseasily substituted with Proxy Dragon, and the second isn't as important asyou might think anyways.

Moving forward, I believe there's merit in dusting off the Union Machinecards and trying the deck again. After all, there are so many new cardsthat happen to give ABC's an incidential boost, all of them worth at leasta little testing, so why not give the deck a shot again. I'm also a bigproponent of mutating strategies to find better combinations and betterways of doing things.

If something isn't winning someone can say it's the "best" version of thedeck all they want, but that qualifier doesn't mean you can't try new tech.

DECKID= 109471Depending on how you define "a mechanic" in the context of Yu-Gi-Oh!design, there's arguably hundreds of mechanics that are specific toparticular themes or happen to span the full breadth of our beloved tradingcard game. A-Assault Core, B-Buster Drake, and C-Crush Wyvern form a trioof recursive cards granting advantage of card economy, if you can reallylabel that as "a mechanic" per se. A-Assault Core gets a Union back to yourhand from your graveyard, B-Buster Drake adds one to your hand, and C-CrushWyvern summons one from your hand.

Your end goal is to consistently churn out ABC-Dragon Buster. That's key towinning, but I think it's more important to focus on what you can controland abuse along the way. Outside of playing Card of Demise, Metaverse, and,uh… Upstart Goblin?... it's hard to guarantee that you'll see Union Hangaron your opening turn. I've heard the sentiment that ABC players live anddie by Union Hangar, and while that isn't exactly wrong, you CAN make themost of other cards as well.

The three main Union monsters only trigger when theyre sent from thegraveyard to the field; my first thought was Summoner Monk to pull themfrom the deck, but life isn't so simple these days that we can use SummonerMonk without reservations. I'm not sure if I'm cursed, but I haven'tsuccessfully resolved Summoner Monk's effect since 2016. Bringing out A, B,or C there is often moot. Granted, B-Buster Drake quickly turns into theother Unions, but consider the following options when you're looking atspare parts in your hand and you don't have Union Hangar.

First up, Brilliant Fusion has seen mild success in ABC decks in the pastand I think it's 110% mandatory moving forward. It doesn't truly compensatefor a missing Union Hangar, but combined with A-Assault Core you'll haveall three Union monsters at your fingertips. Brilliant Fusion yardsB-Buster Drake, so you'll use your second Normal Summon for A-Assault Core,and when you Link those monsters away you can Normal Summon your returnedB-Buster Drake and thus search your missing C-Crush Wyvern shortly after.

Those two cards don't make ABC-Dragon Buster on their own, but with otherhelp in your hand you can Link into Summon Sorceress via Reprodocus and setup whatever missing Union piece you need in the graveyard. Depending on thesituation you'll need a bevy of choices. Gold Gadget and Silver Gadget worknicely and Heavy Mech Support Armor combines with Brilliant Fusion, butI've found lots of success with Instant Fusion as well.

#####CARDID= 23111 #####

Panzer Dragon's an obvious contender for Instant Fusion, but of all therandom Fusions you can Special Summon, I'd argue that Thousand-EyesRestrict is just as handy. You can obviously use it to steal youropponent's monsters, but on a Turn 1 basis you can extend your combos bysummoning a Union to your opponent's field with Summon Sorceress and thensteal it back with Thousand-Eyes!

I also really like Destrudo the Lost Dragon's Frisson as a Link Materialand as a Synchro option. F.A. Dawn Dragster's one of the fewSynchros worth the space since it offers another negation, but your netgains go beyond one lone Synchro Summon. Keep in mind that with an errantUnion Monster hanging around you'll get an added bonus effect, whichhopefully leads you to more ABC-Dragon Busters. Or at least a fasterABC-Dragon Buster.

Heroes Die First, But Dragon Machines Die Second
Sadly, ABC-Dragon Buster doesn't always win games on its own, so you reallywant the option to Summon something stronger when you need to.

The Knightmare Link monsters can lock your opponent out of the Extra Deckcompletely, but don't forget about their co-linked effects and their otherabilities. Knightmare Gryphon might be my favorite Link Monster – period,full stop – since its last effect gives your monsters free rein while youropponent's monsters are shut down. It's not just your Link Monsters, butanything those Link Arrows point to, so ABC-Dragon Buster lives on.

If you're only interested in the most busted of combos, don't worry,because ABC decks have those as well. An unmitigated Brilliant Fusion,Union Hangar, and Union monster in your hand means you'll Link away bothExtra Monster Zones and field two or three ABC-Dragon Busters. Add inDestrudo the Lost Dragon's Frisson Frisson and you get access to F.A. DawnDragster as well.

I considered using Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing for other combos, but withniche picks like Instant Fusion in place the Extra Deck is really tight onspace. Saryuja Skull Dread makes the cut because I always wanted to Summonit and it's possible here, but if there's wiggle room it's probably in theform of Thousand-Eyes Restrict and Panzer Dragon if those aren't quite yourstyle.

#####CARDID= 23177 #####

I opted not to play any Solemn traps since I'm running several cards thatrequire Life Point payments, and as for hand traps, those tended to hurt mein play testing more than they actually helped. Getting to specific combopieces is really the difference between getting the ball rolling towardvictory and just falling flat on your face, so I only wound up runningCalled by the Grave from the usual lineup of conventional disruption cards.

At the same time I made some unconventional choices in the traps partiallydue to bias and partially due to surprise factor. Virtually no one in theentire world plays around Torrential Tribute these days, so it's often freedestruction triggered on your opponent's turn. Hardly anyone would side inRed Reboot against a trap count this low, so the surprise trap activationwill either strike fear into your opponent or become an easy option to sideout if you need to make room between games.

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 "More Bees." When he'snot submitting ideas for Fabled support and a Fabled Link monster, youcan find him building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the localwildlife for an audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only personcapable of cooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always lookingat expanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without ahome. Well, and those with homes already.


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. Don't beafraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not boredof it yet! –LJP