Rise of the Duelist is out, which means that the final pieces to the Infernoble Knight theme have finally arrived in the TCG. The Infernobles are now a strong and competitive combo deck, creating an end board with multiple negates, looking at your hand, and ripping a card out of it with Smoke Grenade of the Thief. It's a devastating combo deck if you aren't prepared for it, so today I want to help you develop a better understanding of Infernoble Knights; how they work, their strengths and weaknesses, and how you can adapt to beat them.
Infernoble Knights have been a top tier successful deck in the OCG since its release back in April. And that's despite the fact that most OCG players run THREE copies of Maxx "C" in every deck. Infernobles managed to succeed even under those harsh conditions, and it just goes to show how consistent and resilient the strategy really is.
Back here in the TCG Maxx "C" isn't legal, so combo decks usually do better than they would in the OCG. Personally I think that it's probably for the best that Maxx "C" is Forbidden, but I digress. Infernobles have been winning in difficult formats for months, and now they're about to be unleashed into a more favorable play environment. That's a scary thought, and even though the deck hasn't had much time to prove itself here, that overseas success gives strong reason to take Infernobles seriously.
So Infernoble Knights gained a total of nine new cards from Rise of the Duelist. Six of them are a lot more popular compared to the other three so I'll give you a rundown on what they do.
Firstly, the theme's new boss Synchro Monster is Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles, a Level 9 Warrior Synchro with 3000 ATK. It's got an effect that destroys a card on the field if it gets equipped with anything.
That gives it synergy with not only the entire Infernoble Knight theme, but also its next ability: in the End Phase, you can attach an Equip Spell to Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles from your graveyard or hand and if you do, you get to equip it with a Fire Warrior monster directly from your deck to give it another 500 attack points.
They've also gained another Synchro Monster that's much smaller, but helps to compliment Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles while also establishing a follow-up. Infernoble Knight Captain Roland is a Level 5 Synchro tuner: when it's Sychro Summoned you activate a type of lingering effect similar to Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss – at the End Phase, you get to search any Warrior from your deck to your hand as long as you send an Equip Spell from the deck first.
Its other effect works from the graveyard . During either player's Main Phase, you can attach Infernoble Knight Captain Roland to another Warrior you control. So if you're already set up to Sychro Summon Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles with multiple monsters, you might as well make Infernoble Knight Captain Roland too, since it gives you a free card at the end of the turn while making Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles a type of removal similar to Zoodiac Drident on your opponent's turn.
Infernoble Arms - Durendal is a new, searchable, searching EquipSpell. It doesn't boost or do anything really to make the creature it's equipped to stronger, but unlike the previous generations of Noble Arms, this sword can be equipped to ANY type of monster. Its purpose is to search. While it's onboard, you can get any Level 5 or lower Fire Warrior from your deck, then destroy it.
It's also got a second effect to revive any Level 5 or lower Fire Warrior from your graveyard if the equipped monster were to be destroyed alongside Infernoble Arms - Durendal. Along with Heritage of the Chalice and maybe even Glory of the Noble Knights, Infernoble Arms - Durendal makes the Infernoble Knight deck consistent.
In terms of main deck monsters, they've recruited Infernoble Knight Oliver, Infernoble Knight Ogier, as well as Infernoble Knight Astolfo to help Infernoble Knight - Renaud from Toon Chaos. Each of them have a unique effect.
Infernoble Knight Oliver and Infernoble Knight Ogier both have a graveyard effect to equip themselves to a Warrior you control, and while equipped they each give a specific benefit. Infernoble Knight Oliver will make your monster untargetable, while Infernoble Knight Ogier makes your monster indestructible by card effects.
Infernoble Knight Oliver a type of extender: you can Special Summon it from your hand by sending another Fire Warrior or Equip Spell in your hand to the graveyard, but it becomes a Level 1 if you summon it that way. It's also a tuner, so it can help you make Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights, Crystron Halqifibrax or even Synchro Summons.
Infernoble Knight Ogier more like an Armageddon Knight, sending any Fire Warrior or "Noble Arms" spell from your deck to the graveyard. Infernoble Knight Ogier has a lot of synergy with Infernoble Knight - Renaud, since Infernoble Knight - Renaud can get back whatever you sent to the graveyard.
Both of those cards are played so that you can combo with them, as well as attach themselves to the big Warrior you end up making to finish your field, whether it be Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles or Immortal Phoenix Gearfried.
Infernoble Knight Astolfo isn't like the others. It has two "once per duel" effects: the first Special Summons it by banishing another Fire Warrior from your hand or graveyard, letting it copy the Level of whatever you banished. That effect's important because unlike the other extenders you play – cards like Fire Flint Lady and Infernoble Knight - Renaud – Infernoble Knight Astolfo doesn't require you to have a monster on the field to begin with; it helps you regain the field when you've lost.
Infernoble Knight Astolfo second ability is sort of similar to Gold Sarcophagus. You banish it card from your graveyard, and on your second Standby Phase you can Special Summon 1 of your Fire Warriors from your graveyard or removed zone. It helps you set up two turns ahead!
And last but not least, you can't forget about the MVP of the deck, the honorary Infernoble Knight monster, Immortal Phoenix Gearfried from Toon Chaos. It's effectively a big Knight with huge attack points, an easy Special Summon condition, as well as a possible monster negate by sending away any equip card you control. Immortal Phoenix Gearfried can also take any monster it would be battling from your opponent's side of the field and equip it to itself for another 500 ATK boost. Even without the Extra Deck, Infernoble Knights can use Immortal Phoenix Gearfried as a win condition.
Infernoble Knights aren't the only viable combo deck being played today. Adamancipator's been a big threat since its release in Secret Slayers, and if you know how to beat one combo deck, applying what you know to other combo strategies can help you play it, as well as beat it. Though the two decks have slightly different approaches, I think their strengths and chokepoints are very similar.
Both decks can put up a monster effect negation mid-combo to fend off a hand trap: Adaamancipators can look for a Koa'ki Meiru Guardian, and in some hands, Infernobles can bring out Immortal Phoenix Gearfried as their fifth summon by either drawing it or searching it with Infernoble Knight Ogier and Infernoble Knight - Renaud. To that end I hope you have some copies of Infinite Impermanence; as a trap card, it has a big advantage when you're trying to disrupt these combo decks at key choke points, since it plays through their possible monster negation.
The big ending boards Adamancipator and Infernoble Knights both rely on are only possible because of the Extra Deck summons they always make, often searching anything from their entire deck if resolved. Monsters like Gallant Granite and Union Carrier give Adamancipator consistent access to Block Dragon, while Infernoble Knights will aim for Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights while inevitably summoning Crystron Halqifibrax to climb into a Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon.
I compare Infernoble knights to Adamancipator a lot because they're both combo-heavy strategies. That said, one of the differences is that Infernobles are more linear, while Adamancipator won't do the same play sequence every game. Compare them to Gouki and Chaos Danger Thunder Dragons at their competitive peaks; Gouki was linear, while Thunder Dragons were more random in a sense, just like Adamancipators with their excavation effects.
Infernoble Knights will generally try to summon two Warriors to start with Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights. From that point there are roughly four different outcomes possible, but the more popular one uses Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights effect, sending two equips from the deck to the graveyard – one of them being Smoke Grenade of the Thief – to summon out the Level 2 tuner Secret Six Samurai - Genba.
From there, you summon Linkross with the Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights, spawning out two Link Tokens. Use the Level 2 tuner and a Token to summon Martial Metal Marcher, and play its effect to revive back the Secret Six Samurai - Genba so you would have Martial Metal Marcher, Secret Six Samurai - Genba, a token and Linkross. From there you can make Herald of the Arc Light, or if you searched Super Quantum Red Layer with Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights effect earlier, you can Sychro Summon Tatsunoko with Secret Six Samurai - Genba and the token. From there you'd Tune with the Level 5 Super Quantum Red Layer in your hand to summon a Level 8 Synchro like Borreload Savage Dragon.
After equipping the Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights to Borreload Savage Dragon, you'll still have Linkross on the field with a tuner. Proceed to summon Crystron Halqifibrax and use its effect to bring out Jet Synchron, then climb into Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon. Use its effects to summon three tokens, then sacrifice two of them to bring out Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion.
Now you'll control Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion, a Level 3 token, Borreload Savage Dragon and Jet Synchron in the graveyard. The goal here is to set up Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles.
So first you Sychro Summon Infernoble Knight Captain Roland using Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion and the token. You'll trigger both of Infernoble Knight Captain Roland effects as well as Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion ability for another token. Next you'll need to discard a card to revive Jet Synchron, and tune it with Infernoble Knight Captain Roland for a Coral Dragon. From there you'll use Coral Dragon and the new token to Sychro Summon Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles and score a draw off Coral Dragon.
Remember that Smoke Grenade of the Thief you loaded into the graveyard with Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights earlier? So now you've got a nasty combo. At the end of the turn you use Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles' effect to equip the Smoke Grenade of the Thief from the graveyard, as well as say, Infernoble Knight Oliver from the deck to give Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles the untargetable buff as well as another 500 ATK.
Then, since Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles was equipped, you get to destroy a card on the field. You'll destroy the Smoke Grenade of the Thief to trigger it, letting you see your opponent's hand and take a card away. If your opponent opened with a Dark Ruler No More, well, now they'll have to rely on their top deck, because that's the card you're sending to the graveyard.
This version of the combo only ended on one negate, as well as a possible removal with the combination of Infernoble Knight Captain Roland graveyard effect equipping Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles. But if you had another extender, you can even end on a Herald of the Arc Light or Psy-Framelord Omega.
So what hand traps would you play to stop that?
Now that you've got an idea on how the deck plays out, it's time to learn how beat it.
The Infernoble Knights will end up with the ability to equip and then destroy Smoke Grenade of the Thief, letting them see your hand and eliminate a card of their choice. That's why you can't rely on just opening with Dark Ruler No More as a solve-it-all easy button. It's better to have multiple hand traps to stop the Infernoble player from reaching the crux of their combo.
Hand traps like Nibiru, the Primal Being, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, Psy-Framegear Gamma with PSY-Frame Driver, Infinite Impermanence, Effect Veiler or Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, and even Ghost Mourner & Moonlit Chill are generically good. Why? Because you want to negate or prevent the Infernoble player's powerful search cards from resolving.
Nibiru, the Primal Being, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit and PSY-Framegear Gamma are the best options because they get the monster off the field, and there are limited ways for your opponent to play through them. Note that Psy-Framegear Gamma's usually sided, since it's better when you;re going second.
The best card to negate are probably Neo Space Connector so that it doesn't bring out Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin. If your opponent didn't start with Neo Space Connector or Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin but are still able to make Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights, you probably want to negate the Link Monster they committed to, and if possible destroy it. That way they'll have one less body on the board to try and Link climb with for Crystron Halqifibrax, which is the real workhorse in this whole combo.
So overall, you want to draw multiple hand traps so that you can possibly negate Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights, Crystron Halqifibrax or Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon as well as playing through Immortal Phoenix Gearfried. That does sound like a mission impossible movie in the making and for what? Well, if they didn't get Immortal Phoenix Gearfried then after negating both link monsters, you've got them in a simplified game state. From there once they pass turn to you, all you have to do is survive while also stopping them from putting up more disruption so you can steamroll them with your engine. The deck is sort of a glass cannon afterall.
History will repeat itself, and just like how players adapted to the popularity of Adamancipators with Linkross and Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon combos, I can definitely see Token Collector resurfacing in the Side Decks of many duelists. Once Linkross resolves and you use the Token Collector, your opponent's just stuck, usually passing their turn since they can't make Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon or even get more tokens.
Something like Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries might work too, so that you can take Crystron Halqifibrax out of your opponent's deck, again keeping them from even reaching Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon. They'll still have access to Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights though, which means they could still end on one disruption.
With all these hand traps in the discussion we'll probably see Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay in the mix to. Since Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin lets your opponent look at your hand they'll often have a lot of information to act on. But they usually can't destroy Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay in your hand since it has such a high ATK. That way when they do summon a Link Monster like Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights, you'll get two more chances to draw into a viable hand trap.
In conclusion, Infernoble Knights is another high-impact combo deck that's definitely going to be a threat in competitive metagames. You'll have to adapt and play the correct answers, or you'll get steamrolled by its central combos. Personally, I know I'll be playing Token Collector again just to stand a chance, and I'm glad I have my own set of Infinite Impermanence too.