Secret Slayers just hit the TCG and with it we now have three brand new themes: Adamancipators, Rikkas, and Eldlich. All three of these archetypes have merit, but most players have been focusing on Adamancipators and Eldlich.
It's hard to say exactly which one – if any – of the Secret Slayer archetypes will make a competitive impact, but Eldlich already has some proven success in the OCG. Their version of the deck is different then the one I'll be showing today (we don't have three Skill Drain or Maxx "C"), but they'll both have the same groundwork.
It's difficult describing the Eldlich deck because it functions in a unique way. It only has one Main Deck monster so comparisons to Sky Strikers are inevitable, but I feel that it plays a lot more like Orcusts. You set up boards that don't quite have infinite negations, but almost every single card has a graveyard ability that gives you more advantage. If you watched my recent video covering the Eldlich archetype then a lot of this will be a recap, but if you haven't then this summary is crucial for understanding the deck.
Eldlich the Golden Lord is the focal point of the entire theme. Not only is it a great card by itself, but it also gives your other cards better effects. More on that later. You can send the Golden Lord and a Spell or Trap from your hand to the graveyard to target a card on the field and send it the grave. Going second that lets you force negations or pick apart boards, but it has utility going first, too. Its graveyard effect can send a spell or trap you control to the graveyard to add it back, and then you get to Special Summon a Zombie monster from your hand. The monster you Special Summon comes out with 1000 more ATK and DEF, and it also can't be destroyed by card effects until the end of your opponent's turn.
There are a few things to note here: first, you're allowed to use both of those effects in the same turn. In most cases you'll be sending it to the graveyard and then immediately adding it back to Special Summon it from your hand. Second, the Special Summon effect doesn't have to just bring out Eldlich the Golden Lord. Doomking Balerdroch isn't played in every Eldlich build but it's a fantastic summon off of the second Golden Lord ability.
The rest of the Eldlich support cards are all spells and traps. The Eldlixirs are your main ways to get Eldlich the Golden Lord to the field. Eldlixir of Black Awakening, Eldlixir of White Destiny, and Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine all share similar effects. When you activate them you get to Special Summon a Zombie monster, but if you don't control an Eldlich then it has to be an Eldlich monster (which for now is just the Golden Lord). Black Awakening summons from hand or deck, White Destiny summons from hand or grave, and Scarlet Sanguine summons from deck or grave. Black Awakening forces you to summon the monster in Defense Position, but this isn't necessarily a downside because the Golden Lord has more DEF than ATK.
The only real restriction is that after you use one of these cards you're locked into only Special Summoning Zombie-types for the rest of the turn. Honestly, that doesn't change how the deck is played too much, but it does keep you from splashing into too many other archetypes.
Finally, all three of the Eldlixirs can banish themselves from the graveyard to set a Golden Land spell or trap directly from your deck. You aren't allowed to use the Special Summon effect and the banishing effect in the same turn. As you'll see in a second, the three Golden Land trap monsters have a similar graveyard banishing effect. That means that in most cases you're trying to send the Eldlixirs or the Golden Land Trap Monsters to the grave with Eldlich the Golden Lord.
Speaking of Golden Lands, the two you want to familiarize yourself with the most are Conquistador of the Golden Land and Huaquero of the Golden Land. They're both Level 5 Light Zombie monsters when you summon them, and if you control Eldlich the Golden Lord they get bonus effects. Huaquero's bonus effect is that it's a D.D. Crow, while Conquistador can destroy a card without targeting. Those effects don't activate on a new chain after you summon them so you can often catch your opponent off-guard. They're also technically not monster effects so you can press them through cards like Skill Drain and Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess.
Guardian of the Golden Lands is the third trap monster, but it's a bit harder to use. It's Level 8, not Level 5, and its bonus effect simply reduces a monster on the field to 0 ATK.
You can banish any of those three cards in the End Phase to set an Eldlixir from your deck. Once again, you're not allowed to use the banish effect in the same turn that you summoned them. The main reason that you'd want to play Guardian would be to have another name you can banish in the End Phase, but at the moment it's not a staple.
There are a few more Eldlich cards that we need to go over, but now that you've got the basics down we can take a look at the deck list I've been testing:
There are a lot of different approaches you can take when you're building Eldlich. In the OCG they're more of a stun strategy, but without stuff like triple Skill Drain I find it challenging to build the same style of deck in the TCG. Another point of contention seems to be whether or not to play the Zombie World package.
In my opinion this version is adjustable in a few ways depending on your expected metagame. The hand trap lineup, for example, should be tailored for whatever the expected matchups are at the tournament you're attending. Because all Regionals and YCS events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future it's tough trying to come up with the perfect build right now, but this is a great stepping stone if you want to try out the theme.
One of the strengths of the Eldlich deck is that you have a ridiculous number of starter cards so you can get away with playing so many hand traps. Eldlich the Golden Lord and all of the Eldlixirs can get you to your regular plays, but there's even more than that. Cursed Eldland is a card we haven't talked about yet, but it's critical at all stages of the duel.
Once per turn, you can pay 800 Life Points to add either Eldlich the Golden Lord or a Golden Land spell or trap to your hand. In most cases you'll want to grab the Golden Lord, but if you already have a copy then going for a Golden Land is your go-to option. If the Cursed Eldland is sent to the graveyard by a card effect you can send either the Golden Lord or a Golden Land Spell or Trap from your deck to the graveyard.
If you're going second, the Cursed Eldland play usually looks like this:
-Activate Cursed Eldland to search either Eldlich the Golden Lord or a Golden Land Trap Monster, whichever you need at the time
-Send the Golden Lord and either a Golden Land or an Eldlixir to the graveyard to get rid of an opposing card
-Use the Golden Lord's graveyard effect to send Cursed Eldland and put the Golden Lord onto the field
-Cursed Eldland then sends a Golden Land to the graveyard, usually whichever one you don't already have access to
-Before the End Phase, banish any Golden Eldlixirs to set your Golden Lands
-In the End Phase, banish any Golden Lands to set Golden Eldlixirs, prioritizing Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine
If you're going first, you can send Cursed Eldland to the graveyard with the in-hand effect of Eldlich the Golden Lord. That might seem like a huge minus, but the card you're sending from your hand will get you a +1 as well as the card you send with Cursed Eldland, so when the dust settles you won't have lost anything. Because your Trap Monsters are better when you control Eldlich the Golden Lord it's imperative to end your turn with it on the field or with Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine set for next turn.
Pot of Extravagance is perfect in this deck because you don't care too much about your Extra Deck. I've seen some players use Magicians' Souls as well, but I found the two cards conflicted enough times that I cut the Magicians' Souls. I wouldn't say you're crazy for playing both though, so you should try it out if you have access to both cards.
One of the aspects that makes this theme so powerful is that many of the starter cards can also be used as extenders, and vice versa. For example, the Eldlixirs are great at getting you to Eldlich the Golden Lord, but if you already have the Golden Lord then you can send them to the graveyard to banish them for Golden Land disruption cards. The Golden Land trap monsters might not seem like great openers, but you can send them to the graveyard to banish them in the End Phase, too.
The three-card Zombie World engine might not seem like enough cards at first but remember that all of your Eldlixirs can summon any Zombie, not just Eldlich the Golden Lord (as long as you already control the Golden Lord). In the hands where you already have everything you need for your normal plays, the Zombie World package gives you a way to make your board that much better. Zombie World in particular can steal games on its own against Salamangreat and Rokkets because it turns all their monsters into Zombies.
As I mentioned before, Doomking Balerdroch can be summoned off of Eldlich the Golden Lord with a bonus 1000 ATK and DEF as well as protection from destruction. Balerdroch's already a standalone powerhouse, but the added protection makes it even more of a pain for your opponent to deal with. Necroworld Banshee is what you summon off of the Eldlixirs to get to that Zombie World, and because its effect to get to Zombie World is a quick effect you can even summon it on the opponent's turn without worrying about it surviving.
Besides the interruptions that we've already gone over, Golden Land Forever! is the main reactive choice for Eldlich. It unfortunately doesn't have a graveyard banishing effect like the other three Golden Lands, but it's still a card you can set off the Eldlixirs. By tributing a Zombie while you control Eldlich the Golden Lord you negate a spell or trap card, or monster effect. It's essentially the Salamangreat Roar of the theme.
What's interesting is that Golden Land Forever! isn't always the best interruption you can go for in Eldlich, specifically because it doesn't gain you card advantage. Often Huaquero or Conquistador are better options because they're disruptions and get you more Eldlixirs to close out the game. Golden Land Forever! is particularly useful against Lightning Storm and Evenly Matched, though, so it's a necessary component. It's not a bad card by any means, but it's one of the only cards in the deck that doesn't get you more cards and it's easily searchable, so one copy has been more than enough in my testing.
Besides the Zombie World lineup, the hand traps are where you can really experiment with this build. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring is fairly standard, but PSY-Framegear Gamma and Nibiru, the Primal Being don't necessarily have to be in the deck. D.D. Crow, Infinite Impermanence, and Droll & Lock Bird are all valid options depending on how tournaments look.
I will say that PSY-Framegear Gamma gives you huge high roll potential. There's a lot of cards that you want to resolve that can be stopped by Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, so Gamma comes in clutch. PSY-Framelord Omega can recycle your banished Eldlixirs and Golden Lands, so if you manage to Gamma something on your own turn you almost instantly win the duel.
If you chose to run Guardian of the Golden Land then I'd suggest trying out El Dorado Adelantado. It's a cool trap card that recycles your banished Eldlixirs or Golden Lands, but it requires shuffling back three different names. We're playing three different Eldlixirs in this build so you could try it out already, but in my own testing I've always found the Golden Lands to be banished faster. Even without Adelantado this deck is extremely capable at grind games, but if the format slows down considerably then Adelantado would be valuable.
You can also play even more Zombies if you want. Uni-Zombie is a card that I've included multiple times throughout my testing, but always ended up cutting for better options. It synergizes well with the trap monsters to make Level 8 Synchros, but it never was as impactful as I wanted it to be. It's possible that a more monster-heavy version of the deck is viable, but I find myself wanting to draw Eldlixirs and Golden Lands more than Zombie monsters.
Looking Toward The Future
I wrote at the beginning of the article that I believe this deck plays like Orcust. The strength of the Eldlich strategy is that almost any two-card combination you draw will end on at least one interruption, but every additional Eldlich card makes your field noticeably better. It's not uncommon to setup a non-targeting pop and a negation on the first turn, followed up by several graveyard banishes. This, of course, sounds a lot like ending on Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star and Orcust Crescendo. That's not to say that Eldlich will be as powerful as Orcusts have been in the past (or even present), but rather that if the deck does see success it'll be for similar reasons.
Even ignoring all of the supporting Spells and Traps, Eldlich the Golden Lord is a viable removal option in almost any game state. The obvious comparison is Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos. You have a card that's great in your regular combos, but if your opponent has a problematic card it also acts as removal. That means you don't necessarily have to Main Deck outs to annoying floodgates. Keep in mind that because Conquistador's non-targeting destruction effect is a trap effect you also never have to worry about losing to Mystic Mine.
Eldlich has options going first and second, plenty of room for experimentation, and automatically synergizes with any past or future Zombie cards. If there were Regional Qualifiers going on right now I'd be surprised if Eldlich didn't Top 8 a few of them. For now, though, we're left only with playing Yu-Gi-Oh! online, but I can't wait for tournaments to start up again to see where Eldlich decks end up!