What's going on, everyone? I hope you've been enjoying and exploring the "new format" as much as I have. It's been a really fun time for me since Nekroz hit the scene, because I feel like Burning Abyss, Shaddolls and Qliphort so far outclassed rogue strategies that rogue picks were really hard to play. Now, because Nekroz totally dominates Shaddolls and gives Burning Abyss a headache, those two strategies are seeing less and less play.

That's awesome news for rogue decks! That's not to say that Nekroz aren't the best deck and can easily wreck your rogue strategy: because they probably are and they can certainly do that from time to time. But their weakness to floodgates and heavy stun monsters like Thunder King Rai-Oh, Majesty's Fiend, Vanity's Fiend and Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo mean you can simply add a few of those cards to your under the radar strategy and greatly help your chances.

So which under-appreciated strategy deserves a second look? In my opinion, it's none other than Gladiator Beasts. The deck's a slow and true standby, because after one successful attack you start gaining card advantage and intimidating your opponent. Gladiator Beast War Chariot has always been fantastic and Gladiator Beast Gyzarus always devastating. The game gets a bit too quick for the deck to keep up sometimes, but with enough traps, you can certainly slow it down to your pace.

Best Stun Deck?
Yosenju have been getting a lot of love and have been praised by many as the best stun deck in the game right now. While that may be true, I think Gladiator Beasts give them a run for their money and it's simply because of one card people are praising both in Yosenju as well as other stun strategies: Anti-Spell Fragrance.

Anti-Spell Fragrance is fantastic right now. Nekroz have no optimal Turn 1 plays against it since they're forced to set all of their Ritual Spells before using them. Qliphort can't even activate a Qliphort Scout, because you can't set Pendulum Spells. You'll slow down Saqlifice and won't have any fear of the deadly Storm. Anti-Spell Fragrance is way better here than in Yosenju, because Gladiator Beasts Bestiari and Gyzarus will eat those set Normal, Ritual and Equip Spells for breakfast; something Yosenju's simply can't do. Let your Qliphort opponents search all of the Qliphort Scouts they want with Saqlifice: they can't use them anyway!

You've also got the ability to abuse so many other floodgate traps, something Yosenju can only slightly do without being mildly affected themselves. There's a lot going on here that's totally underappreciated, so let's get into it.

Balancing Speed And Control
Gladiator Beasts are typically played one of two ways: totally control and stun oriented with teched monsters like Neo-Spacian Grand Mole, Thunder King, Fossil Dyna and Banisher of the Radiance; or with Test Tiger, Elemental Hero Prisma and A Hero Lives for crazy explosive plays. Like any adaptable deck, it always depends on what the current competitive trends look like. If you were attempting to play this deck about a month ago, you would probably attempt a more control-oriented build. However, right now, I'd totally explore the more explosive version.

The reason I'm advising you to go this route is because decks are playing huge monsters and not as many traps. Gladiator Beasts hate big monsters, since you need to resolve a successful attack to really do anything. By tossing in A Hero Lives and the like, you'll spam Gladiator Beast Gyzarus to clear your opponent's field and wreak havoc on their biggest monsters.

You'll balance that out with control-heavy traps. I'm talking Vanity's Emptiness, Mistake and the aforementioned Anti-Spell Fragrance. But if worst comes to worst and your opponent's monsters are a threat, you can sit back on Gladiator Beast War Chariot backed by the insanely underrated triple Mirror Force. Dark Hole has never been better and Glads are one of the few decks that have always loved the mass removal spell. With its Semi-Limited status, and Raigeki and Snatch Steal legal, you've got plenty of ways to handle large monsters without Gyzarus or your opponent's monsters attacking you.

With the proper hand, there's very little your opponent can do to you. I'm hoping you're a least a little jazzed right now, so let's look at the full list:

DECKID=101822Before I dive into this deck's merits against the best strategy's of the format, I wanted to quickly explain the A Hero Lives combo for those unfamiliar. To start off, Elemental Hero Prisma can reveal Gladiator Beast Heraklinos or Gladiator Beast Gyzarus to change its name and send Gladiator Beast Laquari or Gladiator Beast Bestiari to the graveyard. That's important because it opens up a lot of options.

You'll begin by activating A Hero Lives to Special Summon Prisma. Then you'll reveal Gyzarus, to send Bestiari to the graveyard. With Prisma's name as Gladiator Beast Bestiari, you can now Special Summon Test Tiger from your hand. Use Test Tiger's effect to Tribute itself and put Prisma into the deck to Special Summon Gladiator Beast Darius. Darius will trigger, reviving Bestiari and allowing a Contact Fusion of Glaidator Beast Gyzarus. You haven't even Normal Summoned yet and you've already cleared the way for direct attacks and a potential Gladiator Beast Heraklinos in Main Phase 2.

Things get a little out of hand if you happen to draw into your second Elemental Hero Prisma, because you can Contact Fusion using both Prismas and abuse Equeste and Darius to gain significant plusses of card economy, since Laquari and Bestiari will remain in the graveyard. After your Battle Phase, you can end with Heraklinos and Laquari in your hand. I used Gladiator Beasts a bit during the Spellbook format and this play won me nearly all of my matches against that deck. It's really awesome.

Tackling The Top Decks
If you've played any matches against Nekroz at all, you'll know how scary the deck can be when they control no monsters. Out of nowhere, they'll grab Ritual Spells from their deck due to incredible banish-costed effects. Thanks to Gladiator Beast Retiari pillaging your opponent's yard, you can remove those threats before they happen. War Chariot stops Nekroz of Valkyrus and Gladiator Beast Equeste recycles Chariots back to your hand.

This deck also plays around Nekroz of Trishula pretty well, because it's relatively easy to keep your hand empty of cards. Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight has never been better in my opinion. I've seen the devastating Xyz Monster end games sitting in front of a Anti-Spell Fragrance or Mistake, because you can re-direct Twister and Mystical Space Typhoon to other cards. For a monster I never liked much, I've started to really appreciate it. For Games 2 and 3, I've found it wise to use Chaos Trap Hole to ward off Denko Sekka, Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands and Senju of the Thousand Hands. It's a clutch Counter Trap right now.

The Qliphort match-up is a little bleak because their monsters are so big, but thanks to a lot of the mass removal and Bestiari's ability to pick off Pendulum Scales, you've got a fighting chance. Siding into a bit more hate for Skill Drain is always a great idea.

Most of the other decks you'll play aren't too hard. Laquari is larger than nearly all of the Satellarknight's and Burning Abyss almost always have monsters in defense position for you to attack into to gain your awesome effects. Gladiator Beast Retiari is also clutch in this matchup, because you can banish Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss before the End Phase as well as remove pesky Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss so Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss cannot retrieve it.

I've always loved Gladiator Beasts and with my newfound affinity for Ritual Beasts, I'm Contact Fusion Summoning more than I ever have before! I'm really glad Konami introduced another theme around the mechanic, because it brought me back to my roots.

Have you toyed around with Gladiator Beasts in awhile? What's your favorite version? The April 1st Banlist is right around the corner, anything you're hoping to see on the list?

Let me know below!
-Pasquale Crociata

Pasquale is from Long Island, New York, but has lived in New York City for eight years where he earned a BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. Outside of the Yu-Gi-Oh community, he's a working Actor, Model and Singer. Those interested in keeping up with his Acting career can check out his website www.PasqualeCrociata.com and 'Like' his Facebook Page! If you want more of Pasquale's Yu-Gi-Oh content, check out and Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.