Okay. Seriously. I've tried to play with non-Magician decks lately, but nothing seems to compete. The theme's synergy is something truly special, but the ability to use smaller Magician engines to fuel other strategies is too good to pass up. The Magicians enhance so many other themes and bring a ton of new cards to the table; there's no reason not to keep experimenting.

I don't know why I didn't take this route sooner, but I only remembered about Ultra Athletes when I was searching through the Konami Yu-Gi-Oh database for Level 5-7 boss monsters. I was skimming through cards looking for deck ideas and then came across nearly every Athlete, because most of them fall in that Level range. The mash-up just makes a ton of sense, because of how easily the U.A's can get clogged in your hand, due to the need to swap each other out and the high-Leveled nature of the theme.

One Pendulum Call can solve every problem. You've got an easy way to place U.A. Penalty Box in the graveyard to search for any other U.A. spell and a way to get your monsters onto the field by searching out a full Pendulum Scale. The Pendulums can also provide tribute fodder turn after turn to help trigger U.A. Stadium. The biggest boost the theme provides is the ability to win games without ever getting to U.A. Midfielder and that's a huge deal.

Drafting The Team
One of the biggest differences between what's going on here and what I did in my Deskbot Magician mash-up is the need for more Magicians to fill out the deck. The Deskbots have their own Pendulums, which mean that sometimes you only need one Magician to Pendulum Summon.

While the U.A.'s do a good job of putting a ton of damage on the field and recruiting other Athletes, they're not very good at swarming the field, so you're going to need a bigger Magician engine than you might elsewhere, to ensure you can always get the Athletes onto the field.

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Luckily the Magicians are so powerful that you can run a lot of them and not feel like you're pushing it. It's also just an added bonus that all of the best Magicians share matching Levels with at least one U.A. Xyz Summons are really easy to come by as a result.

The best Ultra Athletes have changed pretty drastically since the last time I wrote on them. Where U.A. Goalkeeper and U.A. Midfielder once shined, they don't any longer. Midfielder's useful for quick OTK's and for being a good Normal Summon, but it's not as important here. The spotlight being off of the only Reinforcement of the Army target is a blessing in disguise, since it's fallen to Limited status, a change which which many assumed would damage the consistency of the deck for good. Thankfully, that's not the case. Goalkeeper has become one of the more useless Athletes due to Ignister Prominence, The Blasting Dracoslayer and Kozmo Dark Destroyer running amok. The Goalie used to shine against Kozmo, which made it a solid pick for the Main Deck, but it's too easy to remove now to be worth any space.

U.A. Blockbacker, while always a solid monster, is even better now that Pendulums are the hot trend. It can negate every monster's effect that was Pendulum Summoned and change all of their battle positions to thwart OTK's. Its non-targeting negation makes it an incredible way to keep Dark Destroyer in check while also stopping Majespecters from searching their deck upon Pendulum Summon. Beyond Blockbacker getting better, U.A. Dreadnought Dunker is now fantastic – especially when you pair it with U.A. Jersey. It's single-handily won me more games than I can count, by wiping out Pendulum Scales and dealing massive damage along the way.

The original two – U.A. Perfect Ace and U.A. Mighty Slugger are still incredible, while U.A. Stadium, thanks to its errata, is much improved, since its ATK boost is permanent!

With the relatively constant stream of +1's coming in off of Stadium and the ability to Pendulum Summon large U.A's out of your hand after your initial Normal Summon, this version of Ultra Athletes is more explosive than ever before. Let's take a look at the roster:

DECKID=103882The coolest part about this variant has to be the game-ending comeback play using Sky Iris. In most U.A. decks, drawing into Terraforming late game can be terrible. Sure it's extra discard fodder for U.A. Perfect Ace, but outside of using Chicken Game – there hasn't been any other solid Field Spells U.A.'s could make use of, which meant useless Terraformings as the game progressed. Now though, Sky Iris gets you to Odd-Eyes Fusion by destroying another face-up card on the field, which will hopefully be U.A. Penalty Box!

Penalty Box can then use its graveyard effect to add U.A. Powered Jersey to your hand, which you'll equip to your biggest U.A. to end the game next to the Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon you'll be able to Fusion Summon for free. It's a nifty one-two punch that ends so many games, but even if you can't use the Odd-Eyes Fusion yet it's always important to have a way to destroy your own Penalty Box, because Powered Jersey is absurd.

Beyond that, you've got a nicely balanced Main Deck comprised of ten U.A's and ten Magicians. The Wisdom-Eye Magician and Oafdragon Magician combo provides some nice deck thinning while also netting you discard fodder for Perfect Ace or a much needed tribute on the field if you're trying to trigger U.A. Stadium. Duels don't last long right now, so having incredible ways to end games with ease thanks to the pure power of the U.A's can often spell trouble for opposing Magician and Performage Decks. Perfect Ace is a great answer to a ton of situations right now and the U.A's shouldn't be overlooked, because they provide offense and defense, while letting you play around common cards like Performage Damage Juggler.

With Naturia Beast, Mechanical Hound and other spell lockdown monsters finding their way into peoples Main Decks and Side Decks, it's important to try and think outside of the box to beat those threats. The addition of other engines into your Pendulum Strategy could make a huge difference.

-Pasquale Crociata


Pasquale's from Long Island, New York, but has lived in New York City for nine 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, 'Like' his Facebook Page or follow him onInstagram and Twitter.

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