The Plunder Patroll debuted earlier this year in Ignition Assault, and they're about to receive another wave of support when Eternity Code finally makes its way to North American shores next month. I covered the new cards last month, and back in February I put together a build of Plunder Patroll using only the cards in Ignition Assault. This week I'm combining both articles to bring you a comprehensive guide to the Plunder Patroll strategy.

Until now Plunder Patrolls haven't had enough cards to form a serious competitive build. That's changing with Eternity Code, but these new cards won't be enough to take the deck to the very top of competitive play. Don't get me wrong: Plunder Patrolls are definitely playable, and there's a lot of fun to be had with the theme's unique mechanic. I don't think it'll be winning championships – even after they resume – but the post-ETCO build can hold its own on a local level. I wouldn't be surprised if players were topping Regionals with Plunder Patrolls at some point, or at least scoring invites.

Assembling Your Crew
If you're interested in Plunder Patrolls because they remind you of the 1-card Xyz Summons from the Zoodiac era, you're not alone. The unique summoning mechanic of the Plunder Patroll theme has a lot in common with Zoodiacs, at least from a perspective of card economy. Whitebeard, the Plunder Patroll Helm, Redbeard, the Plunder Patroll Matey and Blackbeard, the Plunder Patroll Captain can Summon Plunder Patrolls from the Extra Deck with a 1-card investment. What's more, all three cards activate or can activate on your opponent's turn, and the monsters they're summoning all have Quick Effects of their own!

The theme's Extra Deck monsters all carry impressive interruptions that either banish monsters, crush backrow or negate monster effects. Plunder Patrollship Moerk, Plunder Patrollship Brann and Plunder Patrollship Lys are the deck's most impactful cards, and the entire strategy's built around summoning them and fueling their effects. Each Extra Deck monster gives you control over a different aspect of the duel, and you can choose which one to summon based on the shape of the game.

It's a powerful mechanic to be sure, but there are some drawbacks. To some extent you'll be relying on your opponent to provide opportunities to summon the right monster. Post-ETCO builds are much less reliant on that, but it's still easier to hit your summons if your opponent's using Dark, Light, or Fire monsters.

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Most Plunder Patroll builds in the wild have a lot in common, and that's largely the result of a very specific build requirement: you need to stack your deck with Plunder Patroll names to ensure your Extra Deck monsters can activate their effects.

Each of the Plunder Patrollships requires a Plunder Patroll in your hand to feed their discard costs, so you'll need to keep at least one of your themed cards on hand at all times. You can get away with a little extra redundancy here, so a full playset of each Main Deck monster isn't as worrisome as you might think. Yes, that's a lot of Normal Summons, but three of the four Plunder Patroll monsters have some sort of Special Summon effect. You'll also end up ditching your monsters entirely to resolve Plunder Patroll Shipshape Ships Shipping.

Long story short: you can almost never have too many Plunder Patrolls in your hand.

The Danger! engine's a shell of its former self these days, but they're a useful tech here and solid filler until we have access to more Plunder Patroll cards. Luckily they're also not nearly as much of a necessity as they were before, so you can leverage them for utility and field presence instead of being forced to use them for Xyz and Synchro Summons. Danger! Bigfoot! and Danger! Thunderbird! offer some much-needed Main Deck removal effects, and Danger! Mothman! can force your opponent to discard a monster so Blackbeard can activate its effect on the first turn.

Combo Starters
Your Turn 1 options are incredibly varied, and whether you're going first or second makes an enormous difference.

If you're playing second you'll typically want to try summoning Plunder Patrollship Moerk as soon as possible to start chipping away at your opponent's monsters, or you could Summon Plunder Patrollship Brann to banish a spell or trap. You're trying to put two Level 4 monsters on the field either way, so your first Summon is typically either Whitebeard or Redbeard. From there you can Special Summon your extenders like Bluebeard, the Plunder Patroll Shipwright and Goldenhair, the Newest Plunder Patroll.

Your gameplan's totally different when you're playing first, and the more information you have about the match-up the better your decision making will be. Activating or searching Plunder Patroll Shipshape Ships Shipping is a solid opener that immediately puts monster effect negation on the field, potentially sparing your from hand traps like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring or Nibiru, the Primal Being. Whitebeard immediately replaces itself when it's sent to the graveyard from the hand or field, and Redbeard can equip itself to Plunder Patrollship Lys when it's used as a material for a Fusion Summon. Don't be afraid to slam Shipping down on the board as your first move of the duel: fielding a monster negation body early is great, especially when Lys itself will help you extend your combos.

Another strategy that's somewhat unique to Plunder Patrolls is their ability to sit and wait for the opponent to make the first move. If you know that your opponent's playing a Dark or Light theme you can simply Summon Whitebeard, Redbeard, or Blackbeard and wait for your opponent to Summon a monster. The only thing better than banishing your opponent's monster with Moerk, or negating their effects with Lys, is Summoning your Plunder Patrollship at no cost. Even a single Whitebeard on the board can be a potential threat, and you can easily take advantage of opponents who don't recognize that.

Combo Extenders
Bluebeard, the Plunder Patroll Shipwright and Goldenhair, the Newest Plunder Patroll are your primary extenders, but keep in mind that Lys has its own Special Summon effect that can help you build field presence. Bluebeard and Goldenhair's effects can also trigger the 'on discard' effects of your Danger! monsters, as well as Whitebeard and Redbeard's effects. There's a real danger of overextending with this deck; always remember to keep at least one Plunder Patroll in your hand to feed the discard costs of your Patrollships. Don't overlook the draw effect of Bluebeard – it can totally save you from those poor openings where you didn't draw enough Plunder Patroll monsters.

You'll want to activate Plunder Patroll Booty as early as possible in the duel to start cranking out Plunder Patroll monsters from the graveyard. Booty can Special Summon a Plunder Patroll each turn as long as you can target an opponent's monster with its attribute-changing effect. The pace at which your trap can produce monsters is totally underrated, and players who don't quickly recognize it as a long-term threat will end up overwhelmed. Plunder Patroll Booty will be destroyed during the End Phase if you don't control a Plunder Patroll monster, but since it Summons one itself that'll rarely be an issue.

Emblem of the Plunder Patroll does a handful of useful things for this deck, including letting you use the theme's Extra Deck summon gimmick without relying on your opponent's monsters. Generally you'll want to use Emblem for free by equipping it from the deck with Plunder Patroll Shipshape Ships Shipping, but you can also equip it to a Main Deck monster you just Summoned. Emblem poses some really interesting deck building questions, and the tech picks you end up playing actually matter quite a bit here. You can tech Effect Veiler so that Emblem gives you Turn 1 access to Lys, for example. The Danger! monsters in this build will help you reach Moerk a little faster, and Dark is probably the ideal Attribute to load into the graveyard anyways.

End Combo Set-Up
Your final board's almost exclusively made up of Plunder Patrollships, but that's fine: there's a Patrollship for nearly every situation. Lys is the backbone of your defensive line-up, and Moerk's easily the best of your disruptive removal options. Pairing both together is ideal, but your backrow support is also important.

Plunder Patroll Booty has disruptive uses by changing Attributes, but you'll primarily be negating monster effects and banishing opposing cards to stop your opponent from building up their field. Luckily all of your Extra Deck boss monsters are easily replaceable–Booty can even Special Summon an Extra Deck monster that was properly Summoned.

Example Starter Combos
Let's take a look at a couple of different openings and how they might play out. First, let's assume you open with a way to Fusion Summon Plunder Patrollship Lys:

-Activate Plunder Patroll Shipshape Ship Shipping, sending two Plunder Patroll monsters from your hand to the graveyard to Fusion Summon Plunder Patrollship Lys

-Activate the effects of your Plunder Patroll Fusion materials, including Redbeard, the Plunder Patroll Matey by equipping it to Lys

-Activate Shipping from the graveyard, equipping Emblem of the Plunder Patroll from the deck to Lys

-Activate Lys to Special Summon Redbeard from your Spell and Trap Zone, if any exists

The simplest combo with Shipping is possible any time you open with two Plunder Patrolls and either Plunder Patroll Shipyarrrd or Shipping. The result's an untargetable negation body that can replace its own discard costs. If you use Redbeard as a material you can also Summon it from the spell and trap zone with Lys' effect. Next, let's look at a simple combo where you don't open with a way to Summon Lys immediately.

-Normal Summon Whitebeard, the Plunder Patroll Helm

-Special Summon Bluebeard, the Plunder Patroll Shipwright

-Link Summon Blackbeard, the Plunder Patroll Captain. Activate Whitebeard to Summon Redbeard, the Plunder Patroll Matey from the deck

It's really important to know what to do after Summoning Blackbeard and Redbeard, because this set-up's either totally workable or completely useless depending on the match-up. If your opponent's playing some kind of Dark-heavy theme you can simply wait for them to Summon or discard a monster, then activate Blackbeard by targeting Redbeard. If your opponent responds with a card effect you can chain Redbeard's own effect to Summon Moerk. Blackbeard gets precedence here thanks to the extra draw you'll get from resolving its effect, but don't forget that you can activate Blackbeard on your turn too. 'Step 4' while playing second is simply targeting your remaining monster with Blackbeard to Summon Moerk, Lys, or Brann on your turn.

Match-Ups, Attributes, And Patching Holes
The Plunder Patroll engine has a slow start, but you'll find yourself making more plays during the third or fourth turn of the duel than the first or second. Unfortunately even with Shipping, Booty, and Emblem you're still somewhat reliant on your opponent's actions and their card choices. This deck simply has a harder time playing against Earth and Wind themes, and even opposing Fire and Water themes can present a challenge for the Plunder Patroll Summoning mechanic. There are no Earth or Wind Patrollships, but the Fire and Water Plunder Patroll Extra Deck monsters aren't always relevant either. Lys and Moerk are definitely the best of the bunch, so match-ups against Dark and Light themes tend to be in your favor.

Despite the deck's Summoning power you'll often find yourself unable to push through your opponent's interruption without committing every card in your hand towards establishing a set-up. That's a problem because you need to keep at least one Plunder Patroll in your hand to activate your Patrollship effects. Plunder Patroll Shipyarrrd can help by returning Emblem of the Plunder Patroll to your hand, and Foolish Burial Goods doubles as a way to dump Shippping and Shipyarrrd into the graveyard. You can also send Plunder Patroll Parrrty to the graveyard with Foolish Burial Goods to ensure your Patrollships always have a Plunder Patroll equipped to them.

The draw effects of Bluebeard, Blackbeard, Pot of Desires, and the Danger! line-up are extremely useful for finding more Plunder Patrolls, but I can't help feeling like this deck still desperately needs more Plunder Patroll names. It's hard to imagine trying to squeeze any more on-theme cards into the build, although I would definitely trade out Plunder Patroll Parrrty if given the chance. There's a lot of potential in this theme, and a Wind and Earth Extra Deck monster would help tremendously. Most of all, Plunder Patrolls need more ways to Summon their Extra Deck monsters without the opponent's help. The ETCO cards are a step in the right direction, even if they're not quite enough to push the deck into the highest levels of competition.

Until next time then

-Kelly