We left off yesterday looking at Relay Soul and Berserker Soul, the latter a niche competitive card that could make a tournament impact in the hands of a determined duelist. Today we'll begin with a look at some long-missing casual cards plucked from a fan-favorite character's deck: Rafael.
Did you remember that Guardian Eatos had an effect beyond its Special Summon? I didn't. But yeah, you can send an Equip Spell attached to Eatos to the graveyard as a cost, then banish up to three monsters from your opponent's graveyard. From there Eatos gets a +500 ATK bonus for each monster you banished, getting it all the way up to 4000 ATK under ideal conditions.
Celestial Sword – Eatos plays into that effect, giving Eatos a permanent 500 ATK bonus for each banished monster removed from the game when the Sword's sent from the field to the graveyard. That's tricky to pull off and conditional as all hell, especially with Dimensional Fissure Limited, but it's a neat little concept that I'd love to explore on the very casual level some time in the future, when I don't have cooler decks to work on.
…Especially when those cooler decks also play Guardian Eatos. When you control Eatos and it hits the graveyard, you can Special Summon Guardian Dreadscythe from your hand to replace it. You can't Normal Summon or Special Summon while you control Dreadscythe, but it's a real pain in the Astral Force to get rid of: whenever it's sent from the field to the graveyard you can send a card from your hand to the graveyard to revive it.
It's cool because realistically, Guardian Eatos is always easiest to play in the early game when you simply haven't had the chance to land any monsters in your graveyard to block your Summon. The longer the game goes on, the higher the chance you'll wind up with a few monsters in the graveyard, and the tougher it gets for Eatos to be anything but a dead draw. The good news is that with Guardian Dreadscythe in the mix you don't need to rely on Eatos for the whole game: you just need it to hit the field once while you have Dreadscythe in hand, and from there Dreadscythe carries the rest of the game.
To make that even more tempting, Guardian Dreadscythe grabs its namesake Equip Spell straight from your deck, any time it's Special Summoned; even when you're just reviving it with its own effect. It's a little rough, because that effect can't grab the Equip Spell back from your graveyard – you either run multiple copies and risk drawing it, or run one and risk running out. But when it works it's a free plus, and it's a pretty great card as free cards go.
You can equip Reaper Scythe – Dreadscythe from your deck with Guardian Dreadscythe's effect, or just play it straight from your hand when you control its matched monster. It boosts your Dreadscythe by 500 ATK for every monster in both players' graveyards, which is why you kind of have to decide between running Eatos and Celestial Sword – Eatos in your Rafael theme deck, or playing this thing.
2500 ATK's pretty big to begin with, and it's really easy to see even just four or five monsters hit the yards between you and your opponent before Guardian Dreadscythe drops. A self-recurring 5000 ATK beater's nothing to sneeze at; it can close out the game with surprising speed. There's a fun little casual deck here, but it's got some teeth and it can steal wins in spectacular fashion.
I'm reasonably certain I like Guarded Treasure more than anybody else. Period. Yes, if you activate it and your opponent destroys it immediately it's game over, which makes Mystical Space Typhoon your worst fear. Yes, the discard cost is huge and yes, it takes four, arguably five turns to break even in card economy. But regardless, there are decks where I really want to give this thing a shot. That attraction's more than the notion that at some distant point in the future this thing can start raking in card advantage. There are also advantages to filling your graveyard early if you can do it without losing all of your cards in the long run, and Guarded Treasure lets you dig way deeper into your deck than normal. That makes it easier to see key the cards you want, and put together certain types of combos.
I guess I like it because I look at Guarded Treasure as a sort of challenge? Like if I break the system and beat the card, I'll get an advantage other people don't see coming. Right off the bat, Mystical Space Typhoon's your biggest concern. But, it's possible we're headed for a future where everybody drops their 1-for-1 removal in favor of Wiretap anyways, for fear of Artifact Sanctum and Artifact Moralltach. If that happens then that's barrier number one out of the way.
Next up, you'd need to run Guarded Treasure in a deck that can accommodate its discard cost. Yes, you could open with Guarded Treasure, activate it, pitch all your cards and then draw two more and survive. But that's leaving a lot of factors to chance. The more cards you can get to your hand before activating that hopefully-first-turn Treasure the better, which again incentivizes the use of Thunder Sea Horse and Thunder Dragon. Both cards get you an instant plus and thin your deck. Sea Horse can even set up early game plays with stuff like Batterymen, yarding Batteryman AAA for immediate recursion into a Rank 4, as well as Hunder monsters. The reverse of that play philosophy is to pitch monsters that remain live in your graveyard: think Mezuki in Zombies or Dragon Rulers in Dragon variants.
There are options. And I find it entertaining to consider them.
Will Guarded Treasure be viable in any sense in the wake of PRIO? I hope so, but we're going to have to wait and find out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my Hunder Batteryman Deck at the ready.
Which brings us to Soul Charge, easily the most talked-about card of the year.
There's not much left to say at this point: depending on your game position and your needs, Soul Charge is either a heavily-costed Rekindling for any strategy imaginable, or a super-flexible Monster Reborn for relatively few Life Points. It's awesome. You either have it already, or you want it already, and you don't really need me to explain it. Beau explained how to play it. Kelly explained how to beat it. I really have nothing to add to those dialogues save to reiterate the far-reaching implications.
Soul Charge is more than just a card on its own. It's a competition-shaping force that's going to guide countless trends moving forward. Players are already sculpting their Main Deck tech and Side Deck choices around its presence: its solely responsible for the return of Vanity's Emptiness and a sudden upswing in the popularity of burn cards (which can now win you the game when your opponent risks too many Life Points). Costed cards like Solemn Warning, Skill Drain, and Seven Tools of the Bandit are tougher to justify, as is giving your opponent free Life Points with Upstart Goblin. Gagaga Cowboy and Number 82: Heartlandraco are significantly more powerful, and each of these trends carries numerous implications, like ripples across the surface of a very deep and very wide pond.
This WCQ season won't come down to how you play Soul Charge. It'll come down to how you react to it.
Moving from the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! series and into Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, we move from the sublime to the ridiculous. Pair Cycroid's easy to overlook, but it's kind of interesting solely because Soul Charge exists. There are some cute tricks here involving Power Bond after your opponent Soul Charges themselves into oblivion and it's all not very good, per se. But it does seem amusing.
I mean, could you imagine how angry someone would be at losing to this thing? Look at it. Scroll up and look at that art again.
Your heart would break.
This card is impossible to play.
This card is almost impossible to play, and not very interesting when it can be played. It's sort of a Bad Honest For Fusion Monsters.
…Which is rough since numerous Light Fusion Monsters already have Honest. Big style points if you kill someone with it though. See Pair Cycroid.
This card is not impossible to play, and it's actually more interesting than it looks. Super Polymerization's been played for years, due in part for its ability to drop as a surprise play in your Battle Phase, giving you another attacker with which to steal victory. While Super Poly can steal an opposing monster off the field to use as a Fusion Material, it also requires a discard cost and has arguably lower utility as a result. Flash Fusion's cost is easier to manage, replacing the discard with the requirement that all Fusion Materials come from your side of the field.
If Flash Fusion wins you the game when you activate it, you don't care that it would destroy your monster later. If you play Flash Fusion to Summon Elemental HERO – Absolute Zero or Elemental HERO – The Shining, their effects will balance out some or all of your card loss when they're destroyed.
Flash Fusion's not a great card, but it's an interesting one, and it's easy to see how it could have a role in OTK-oriented HERO decks. Could it be a threat in the future? Possibly. If Masked HERO can Top 8 a YCS, this could too.
YES! Okay! The GX era did have some good cards after all! As a Beast fan, Ayers Rock Sunrise is one of my favorite cards in this set. It's a simple card with a big impact; effectively a Monster Reborn for Beasts, that Shrinks your opponent's monsters as a bonus. It ensures that whatever you bring back gets to reign high and mighty as king of the jungle, if only for one turn.
As Doug showed you in Low Key this week, Ayers Rock Sunrise is awesome in Crystal Beasts where it can revive Crystal Beast Sapphire Pegasus and trigger its effect to crystallize a CB to your backrow. It also works with Crystal Beast Topaz Tiger and Crystal Beast Amber Mammoth in a pinch, creating Rank 4 opportunities. It's the biggest boost Crystal Beasts have had in years. Combined with Soul Charge – as Doug demonstrated – it takes the strategy to surprising new heights.
Beyond my favorite pet deck there are tons of uses in other strategies. You can bring back Diamond Dire Wolf to treat Ayers Rock Sunrise as 1-for-1 spot removal. It can create Synchro plays by reviving Guldfaxe of the Nordic Beasts and non-Tuners in Nordics. It's even more revival power for Heraldic Beast Leo and Heraldic Beast Basilisk if that's a thing you needed. You can bring back a ton of Madolches, including Madolche Hootcake. It even gives a boost to X-Sabers, recurring X-Saber Airbellum to hit your opponent's hand when you can make a directshot, or reusing XX-Saber Darksoul.
Sunrise's best use outside of Crystal Beasts might be its ability to revive fallen control monsters that dominate the game if left unchecked. If King Tiger Wanghu matters in the future, it could be really annoying to have a ton of recursion for it. Leo, Keeper of the Sacred Tree could be the best argument for Sunrise, since opponents that can deal with it once generally can't deal with it a second time. You can play it to bring back Naturia Beast when it's destroyed by an attack or a trap, or even tech one copy in a Naturia Exterio Obedience Schooled deck (I keep revisiting my Raccoon Exterios).
Fables love it too, since you can bring back The Fabled Unicore and keep locking in its control ability. I've personally never been impressed with Unicore, largely because Unicore locks are so fragile and once they're broken you generally can't recover. But the ability to stick Unicore back on the field in an instant could give that deck a new lease on life, even if just for locals.
Sidenote: Rescue Cat's officially never coming back.
I love Doble Passe: it dishes out a ton of damage at a time in the game where Soul Charge has made that really powerful. While it can deal more damage than Magic Cylinder, it also costs you more Life Points in the long run and it has a more specific set of activation requisites, needing a monster on the field and requiring your opponent to attack it.
The simpler card usually wins out in these kinds of comparisons, but Doble Passe certainly isn't bad. Outclassed? Possibly. We'll have to see how things shake out in the wake of YCS Philly, the YGO Series in Orlando, and PRIO in general.
Moving back to the competitive side of things, Carboneddon's first effect is really niche and not very good, but its second effect makes it an excellent candidate for Hieratic Rulers and potentially other Dragon Ruler strategies. As an Earth monster you can pitch it for Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders' effect, then banish it to Special Summon Flamvell Guard in a regular Dragon Ruler or Mythic Dragon Ruler build. It can Summon any of your Level 6 Normal Dragons in Hieratics, too.
The fact that Carboneddon combos with Redox, the Dragon Ruler packing the extra Special Summon effect, means you can make all sorts of plays where Redox revives whatever non-Tuner Material you need, and Carboneddon brings out a Level 1 Tuner to make your Synchro Summon. Some folks are doing really cool stuff teching Level 7 Normals in Dragon Ruler variants to make Rank 7's, and Carboneddon can also combo with Crane Crane; it's a valid Xyz Material for both Meliae of the Trees and Soul of Silvermountain. Any and all Level 3 Earth monsters have those inherent advantages, so don't forget to consider them and weigh them appropriately.
Speaking of Level 3 Earth monsters! Mathematician's one of my favorite cards in the set; it's effectively a Foolish Burial on legs. While Burial won't eat your Normal Summon, Mathematician isn't a -1 of card economy; you keep your monster on the field until it's destroyed by battle, whereupon you'll draw to replace it. In ideal circumstances Mathematician is completely free, gets you one card deeper into your deck, and loads your graveyard with a Level 3 Earth to banish for Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders, revive with Crane Crane, and use for further plays with Meliae, Silvermountain… even Naturia Beast or Naturia Barkion.
Mathematician draws immediate comparisons to Armageddon Knight. While its effect is limited to Level 4 or lower monsters, Armageddon Knight can load up monsters of any size provided they're Darks. They do overlap on monsters like Necro Gardna and Plaguespreader Zombie, but they largely offer access to different card groups. Armageddon Knight can't balance its own destruction with a draw effect like Mathematician can, but it has synergy with Summoner Monk, immediately overlaying off Monk's Special Summon for a Rank 4. On the other handMathematician combos with Crane Crane instead; again, kind of similar, but on a deck by deck basis it's completely different in the end.
In a vacuum Mathematician's the preferred card, but realistically the decks that would have to decide between the two are few and far between. Infernities will still run Armageddon Knight. Plants and a wealth of other strategies now have Mathematician.
I think there are better ways to make Tribute for the God Cards than using Ra's Disciple. But that doesn't deter me from wanting to play this card.
When you Normal Summon one Disciple you'll almost always get an instant +2 by Special Summoning two more. You can't Tribute them, nor make Special Summons while you control them, so you can't use them for Synchros or Xyz Summons. But you still field three monsters with a combined 3300 ATK for one card, and since they're all Light Fairies there's a lot of potential there. You can bring out your two free Disciples in Defense Position to chump block and fill your graveyard: that helps you Summon Chaos monsters and Archlord Kristya, while fueling Master Hyperion's destruction effect. Because they're Light monsters, you can boost the Disciples with Honest – note that an Honest play with one Disciple from hand gives you the four Fairies needed for Kristya.
It's a simple card, with a lot of balancing restrictions and more uses than you might spot at first glance. It's a cool little addition to the set.
Mound of the Bound Creator's a surprisingly versatile card, fitting into more than just one strategy: Nordics, Malefics, and the underrated The Wicked Avatar can all run it, though whether or not they should is a different story.
The card obviously shines supporting God Cards, namely Obelisk the Tormentor. The ability to both search and protect Obelisk in a deck built around Summoning it – like say, a Frog variant – is kind of awesome. Mound winds up being a search card when you still need to seek out the Egyptian God, or a useful layer of defense plus a bit of burn damage once your strategy gets going. How you destroy Mound to trigger its search is up to you, and that may become a complicated issue if Artifact Sanctum makes spell and trap destruction less desirable, but a simple Mystical Space Typhoon gets the job done in a pinch. Other candidates, like the Artifact-risky Malevolent Catastrophe and the fortunately very precise Scrap Dragon, all offer their own pros and cons.
Again, it's another useful and unique piece of theme support that wades into fairly unexplored territory. Good to see.
I think Shooting Star's actually better than most people are giving it credit for. It's never been tough to field Stardust Dragon or Stardust Spark Dragon, and since protecting Vanity's Emptiness with Spark Dragon is once again becoming a popular strategy, simple 1-for-1 spot removal with no restrictions could prove valuable. Infernity Break has seen play for ages in successful decks, and Shooting Star's pretty similar. It might be too slow to really be competitive, but it's got potential and it's certainly not bad.
Whether or not the pacing of competition will allow you to play a card that would largely be dead in your opening hand is up in the air; the answer to that question is usually no. But it's still worth considering, and might warrant some serious playtesting.
The new Blackwings in Dragons of Legend are all pretty underwhelming, but of the three, Blackwing – Steam the Cloak is the best. A searchable Level 3 Tuner with a comfortable 800 ATK – low enough to work very nicely with Black Whirlwind – Steam returns once per game off of its effect, allowing you to Tribute the Steam Token it generates to bring it back. As a chump Blocker, Steam is a two-piece defender at worst.
As a Tuner though, it's awesome to Special Summon this card to the field with Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame instead of wasting Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind's valuable effect. The option of turning anything you want into a Level 3 Tuner is huge, giving you way more access to Level 7 Synchro Summons and thus the field-clearing power of Black Rose Dragon. It even has some stellar synergy with Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite: you get a Steam Token any time you bounce Steam The Cloak back to your hand to bring Zephyros to the table. That alone can create Level 8 Synchro plays if you were lucky enough to keep Steam on the table for a turn, or you can make Rank 4's off Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame and use the Steam Token as extra insurance to protect your Life Points.
Black Sonic's awesome. I've spoken before about the decision between Mirror Force and Dimensional Prison as it's existed in major competition this year: Mirror Force gives you a chance to destroy more than one monster at a time, if your opponent plays poorly or desperately, and it doesn't target; Dimensional Prison does target, but won't fall victim to destruction resistance, so it can beat stuff like Stardust Dragon and Number 101: Silent Honor ARK. One of the big recurring questions of 2014 has revolved around which card is superior.
The answer? Black Sonic's mechanically better than both. Yes, you have to control a Blackwing to use it; it won't defend you from attacks with an empty field. But it's not hard to keep a Blackwing on the table these days, with Black Whirlwind unlimited and making Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite better than ever; triple Blackwing - Kalut the Moon Shadow keeping your monsters safe; and Blackwing – Steam the Cloak giving you even more field presence. This card's way underrated right now, wielding the card advantage and non-targeting advantages of Mirror Force, with the banish factor of Dimensional Prison. The hand trap sideshow effect is just a bonus, though it offers some killer mindgames that can complicate your opponent's choices.
I don't think I've really wrapped my head around all the possible uses for Shadow Impulse yet. But by far, the most tempting way to run it is to try and bypass the need for specific Synchro Materials for certain monsters: I could see running it in Raccoons with Junk Synchron, to turn Junk Warrior into The Legendary Six Samurai – Shi En. That same play could prove competitive in Noble Knights, swapping out a fallen Ignoble Knight of High Laundsallyn for Shi En once Laundsallyn's already nabbed you a search. Level 6 Dragons can become Naturia Barkion, too.
It could have potential in anything making Level 8 Synchros as well, converting Stardust Dragon or Scrap Dragon into Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons or Void Ogre Dragon. Both would normally require Dark Tuners, and both have powerful control effects that can make life really tough for your opponent.
It's an especially interesting card in what might become the era of Fire Hand and Artifact Sanctum. I think we're headed for a situation where the best decks are going to be those that can survive through power destruction effects, and that could make both Beelze and Shadow Impulse valuable cards in their own ways, and together. This card's probably too narrow for real competition, but there are some promising possibilities and I don't know if anyone's really gotten to the bottom of everything it can do. It's definitely something I want to sit down with and start making giant charts over.
That's it for today! Tomorrow we'll close out our Set Review starting with a look at the villainous side of 5D's, and then taking a peek at some of the more complicated cards in Dragons of Legend, buried in the Zexal portion. See you then!