The last time D/D/D was a serious competitive strategy was back in 2017 – immediately after the release of Pendulum Domination Structure Deck early in the year.
The deck had its moment to shine early in that year, but its run largely ended when Zoodiacs and True Dracos hit the TCG a few months later. Maximum Crisis was a game-changer in Yu-Gi-Oh, and an even bigger shake-up was coming in July with the release of Starter Deck: Link Strike. The Link mechanic reined in some of the power of other Extra Deck mechanics, which D/D/D famously relies on. Few decks were as affected by Master Rule 4 as D/D/Ds, and nobody has really taken the deck seriously since.
The April 2020 rule change mitigating the need for Link Monsters has breathed new life into D/D/Ds. The deck's much more viable today than it was a month ago, and there are several new cards in recent releases that benefit the strategy. While the D/D/Ds aren't necessarily amazing, they're definitely more cohesive and more competitive thanks to Master Rule 5.
It's also a fantastic budget strategy if you don't mind replacing Crystron Halqifibrax. Nearly the entire Main Deck can be played as commons, and cheap commons at that. None of the themed Extra Deck monsters are in high demand either; it's hard to beat D/D/Ds as far as the price-to-potential ratio goes. It's an incredibly fun deck to play, leveraging Links, Fusions, Xyz, Synchros, and Pendulums together into an onslaught of high-powered Extra Deck cards.
Wielding All Five Extra Deck Summoning Methods
The heart and soul of the D/D/D deck is its ability to crank out Extra Deck monsters that act as additional extenders for the deck's myriad combo pieces. Nearly every monster in the deck either Special Summons itself or another monster, and the ultimate goal is to build up a huge field presence before consolidating your monsters into negation bodies.
Generic negation cards like Borreload Savage Dragon and Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon are end goals here, but so are the theme's specific defensive cards. D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried, D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga, and D/D/D Flame High King Genghis cover spell and trap interruption while your generic negation targets monster effects.
D/D Swirl Slime, D/D Necro Slime, D/D Lamia, and D/D Savant Kepler are among the first effects you'll activate on your turn, and they're essentially the gateway to your first Extra Deck extenders like D/D/D Flame King Genghis. D/D Lamia's one of the game's best Tuners, and Crystron Halqifibrax helps you get a copy in play or keep a copy in your graveyard to Special Summon with one of your many extenders. D/D Ghost might be news to you if you stopped caring about D/D before Maximum Crisis, and it's especially relevant with Halqifibrax. Keep in mind that D/D Ghost isn't once per turn, so you can use it as often as you like by repeatedly loading it into the graveyard or banishing it.
You'll want to open the duel with as many of the smaller D/D monsters as possible, so a good portion of the draw power in this deck is basically just to fill your hand with copies of Swirl Slime and Necro Slime. Pot of Desires is almost a must in a combo deck like this, and it informs some of our ratios for cards that might have been one-ofs otherwise. D/D/D Chaos King Apocalypse is typically placed in the Pendulum Zone by D/D/D Abyss King Gilgamesh, but it's worth playing two to avoid banishing your only copy. Zachariah Butler wrote an excellent article earlier in April about the math behind Pot of Desires, and it's worth checking out if you have more questions about how Desires impacts this deck.
I really wish Allure of Darkness wasn't necessary here. You'll rarely want to banish one of your D/D monsters unless you have duplicates in your hand, so you have relatively few cards to banish for Allure. Unfortunately there are five D/D/D cards in this deck that aren't combo starters, and you need to make absolutely sure that you're prioritizing the smaller monsters whenever possible. Resolving Allure gets you closer to Desires, closer to Dark Contract with the Gate, and if we're especially lucky it'll round out your hand with the combo pieces you need for your ideal end board.
Kepler & Gate - Starting The D/D Engine
Again: D/D Swirl Slime, D/D Necro Slime, and D/D Lamia are your top priorities in the early game. Almost everything you're playing is designed to get you to those cards as quickly as possible.
The deck's themed search effects are of course incredibly important, and there's a bit of redundancy between D/D Savant Kepler and Dark Contract with the Gate that you'll need to deal with. Gate can search any of the deck's D/D monsters, and Kepler searches Gate when it's Normal or Special Summoned.
One for One makes finding Kepler even easier, and maybe even too easy – you'll naturally end up with Gate and Kepler in your hand at the start of many duels. In that case you can use Kepler to search Dark Contract with the Swamp King instead, although it isn't needed for every combo.
Unfortunately we're limited to a single search effect every turn. Gate is the only way to actually find additional D/D cards other than drawing them, so it's hugely important that Gate resolves successfully. You'll want to Summon and activate Kepler first whenever possible to hopefully bait out interruption like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. If you're holding a copy of Gate already you can then freely activate it, but keep in mind that you're still vulnerable to Droll & Lock Bird. Called by the Grave is essential here, and hopefully you'll find it before your draw and search effects are locked down.
Core Combo Pieces & The Extra Deck
D/D Swirl Slime is often your first step after you've finished resolving D/D Savant Kepler and Dark Contract with the Gate. Its in-hand Fusion Summon effect lets you Summon D/D/D Flame King Genghis early, loading another extender on the field. Summoning another D/D monster with Genghis on the field will trigger its effect and let you Special Summon a D/D from the graveyard, but Genghis isn't the only monster that gives you extra Summoning power from the graveyard. D/D/D Gust King Alexander, D/D/D Flame High King Genghis, D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok, and Cross-Sheep all act as mid-combo extenders that add an extra Special Summon to your normal plays.
There are plenty of D/D monsters that activate in the graveyard too, including D/D Swirl Slime, D/D Necro Slime, D/D Lamia, and D/D Ghost. Most of your graveyard recursion is built around repeatedly Summoning D/D Lamia, but Lamia also has its own Special Summon effect. D/D Ghost helps fill the graveyard from the deck, block chains, and return banished D/D monsters to the graveyard so they can be Summoned again with Genghis or Alexander.
Each Extra Deck monster is a stepping stone towards further combos, and Lamia's the key to unlocking the deck's best end-field set-ups. Keeping Lamia in play is extremely important, but so is finding it in the first place. Crystron Halqifibrax solves the problem of finding Lamia to some extent, but ideally you'll be using Halqifibrax to Summon D/D Ghost instead.
Offensive And Defensive Extra Deck Options
At the end of your turn you'll want to pair up one of your spell and trap negation effects with another negation body that covers monsters.
You have plenty of ways to stop spells and traps here: D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried is the best of the bunch, but D/D/D Flame High King Genghis is another option. Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon covers monster effects, and Borreload Savage Dragon covers all types of card activations. Formula Synchron's fantastic in the context of a full combo set-up because it can upgrade one of your Level 8 Synchros to Satellite Warrior to destroy two or three cards on your opponent's turn. Satellite Warrior's a powerhouse in this deck since you're Synchro Summoning so much, and you can Summon Formula Synchron with D/D Lamia and a Level 1 non-Tuner or Crystron Halqifibrax's Quick Effect.
So what's the plan if you're playing second, or you're in the mid-game and looking to close out the duel quickly? Satellite Warrior's still an option, but there are two really interesting themed Extra Deck monsters that can turn the tables on your opponent really quickly: D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga and D/D/D Wave Oblivion King Caesar Ragnarok.
Besides competing for the title of the longest card name in Yu-Gi-Oh! both cards let you break your opponent's field by either locking down their effects and destroying their backrow, or stealing monsters with a non-targeting, non-destruction effect. D/D/D Wave Oblivion King Caesar Ragnarok is an incredibly strong Fusion Summon target for Dark Contract with the Swamp King, and it's a fantastic recovery option if your opponent manages to push through your wall of negations.
The D/D/D Gameplan
By now you're probably asking "So, how exactly do I end up at these crazy end-turn boards?"
The answer is a little complicated, because there are simply so many combos at your disposal with D/D/Ds. Let's talk about the ideal combo with the perfect opening: TeamSamuraiX1 on YouTube has a fantastic visual guide for a handful of D/D/D combos, and the first one is by far the most important.
The end field you're aiming for consists of Crystron Halqifibrax, D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried, Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon and Cross-Sheep, and you can activate Halqifibrax to Summon Formula Synchron on your opponent's turn for even more interruption. It's definitely powerful, but you'll need to open with a particular set of combo pieces to make it work: D/D Swirl Slime, D/D Necro Slime, and D/D Lamia are requirements. In a perfect world you'll resolve D/D Savant Kepler to get Dark Contract with the Gate, and then use Gate's effect to find your missing D/D monster.
- Normal Summon D/D Savant Kepler to search Dark Contract with the Gate to your hand. Activate and resolve Gate to get one of the missing three D/D monsters
- Activate Swirl Slime, discarding Necro Slime to Fusion Summon D/D/D Flame King Genghis. Use Swirl Slime in the graveyard to Summon D/D Lamia from your hand, then use Genghis to recover Necro Slime
- Synchro Summon D/D/D Gust King Alexander with Genghis and Lamia. Link Summon Cross-Sheep with Alexander and Necro Slime
- Activate Necro Slime and banish Genghis to Summon D/D/D Flame High King Genghis (that's the Level 8) in one of the Linked Zones Cross-Sheep points to. Activate Cross-Sheep to Summon Lamia, and activate High King Genghis to Summon Alexander from the graveyard
- Link Summon Crystron Halqifibrax with High King Genghis and Lamia, and activate its effect to Summon D/D Ghost from the deck. Activate Alexander to Summon Lamia, then Summon Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon with both monsters
- Link D/D Ghost and Kepler into D/D/D Abyss King Gilgamesh and activate its effect to place D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok and D/D/D Chaos King Apocalypse in your Pendulum Zones (at this point you're locked into D/D Summons). You can also resolve Ghost and use it to chain block your opponent's response to Abyss King Gilgamesh.
- Activate D/D/D Chaos King Apocalypse by banishing D/D Ghost and another D/D monster from your graveyard, then use Ghost's effect to return the Level 6 Genghis Fusion to the graveyard.
- Activate Lamia by sending D/D/D Abyss King Gilgamesh to the graveyard, then activate D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok in response to Summon the Level 6 Genghis from the graveyard to a zone Cross-Sheep points to. Finally, Synchro Summon D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried using D/D/D Chaos King Apocalypse and Lamia.
At the end of the combo you'll have one more trick up your sleeve: you can activate Halqifibrax to Summon Formula Synchron, then use Formula's effect to Synchro Summon Satellite Warrior with Siegfried to a zone Cross-Sheep points to. Activate Cross-Sheep, Summon Formula back to the field, and Synchro for Borreload Savage Dragon with the Level 6 Genghis. That's a total of three negation effects and one destruction effect that you can trigger during your opponent's Main Phase. Oh, and you'll get to draw a card thanks to Formula Synchro's effect.
You'll have plenty of imperfect hands when you're playing D/D/D, and a large part of your success with the deck will be in figuring out how to beat your opponent's field in the face of interruption. Backrow-heavy strategies present the biggest threat, but in those match-ups you can often win the duel by blowing out your opponent's spells and traps with D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga.
D/D Savant Thomas helps expedite your Rank 8s, and in a pinch you can load in into your Pendulum Zone to recover a D/D Pendulum Monster in your Extra Deck. The D/D Extra Deck is filled with cards that can negate spells and traps – the hard part is successfully making those Summons in the first place if you're playing second. Luckily Kali Yuga shuts down all other card effects for the turn, so it has a bit more staying power than your other negation bodies.
There are a few cards you really don't want to sleep on: D/D/Ds have access to excellent monster removal options with D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok and D/D/D Wave Oblivion King Caesar Ragnarok, so drawing into Ragnarok or Dark Contract with the Swamp King can prove to be extremely valuable when playing second. D/D/D Gust High King Alexander doubles as an extender and as a closer thanks to its potential to reach 6000 ATK, so it's worth playing here even if you might go into Satellite Warrior more often.
This deck is also stacked with recovery effects that can help you salvage your field if it's blown out by a Lightning Storm or some other mass removal. D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok will stick around on the field and Special Summon D/D/D monsters from the graveyard even during your opponent's turn, and you can reload Swirl Slime and Necro Slime with D/D Ghost. Dark Contract with the Swamp King is fantastic for turning the game around and demolishing your opponent with a swarm of Fusion Monsters, and D/D/D Flame King High Genghis or your second copy of D/D/D Flame King Genghis are excellent starting point for rebuilding your field.
The D/D/D strategy is easily the best it's ever been, but it's hard to tell if it'll have a real competitive showing. The deck's consistency issues and inability to dodge Nibiru, the Primal Being are huge concerns, especially since other combo decks have found ways to solve both problems. The D/D line-up might be Unlimited, but there aren't that many ways to find what you need. Losing your Gate search to negation is devastating if you didn't open with a draw spell.
That said, D/D/Ds have access to an insane Extra Deck line-up and a fantastic set of negation bodies. What's more, the deck's ability to abuse Cross-Sheep is unrivaled, and it's hard to name another deck that's using Formula Synchron twice on the opponent's turn. I can't help but wonder if it's simply a matter of finding the right build, or if D/D/Ds need one last card to finally come into their own.
It's not the most important factor to everyone, but it's worth mentioning that this deck is unreasonably affordable. You can buy the necessary singles for under $10 provided you already have Crystron Halqifibrax and Borreload Savage Dragon. If you're looking for a deck to really flex the new Summoning rules in the post-April format, look no further. This is exactly the combo strategy you'll want to try if you've been waiting to Summon twenty times in a turn and use Xyz, Synchros, Fusions, Links, and Pendulums all at once. It's a ton of fun to play, and there are plenty of other variants to test out.
Until next time then