Well we've arrived. It's been a long time coming for this update, but Normal Pendulums are finally getting some love. I last wrote about the deck back in early December when I realized that all of the Scales and Levels worked together. The deck could spit out huge beaters and abuse First of the Dragons with ease, so what wasn't to like?

Well, like all decks that fall by the wayside, it had consistency issues. You'd often have mismatched pairs or draw into a Pendulum you didn't need or couldn't use. There were games that couldn't be won, simply because your opponent had a field out that you couldn't beat because your start was too slow. You also had plenty of games where your hand had too many high-Level monsters and no way to get them on the field. Thankfully, Konami gave you an incredible fix in Secrets of Eternity: Dragoons of Draconia.

The World Premiere Beast-Warrior changes the direction the deck could go, because it turned every single Normal Monster into a walking Reinforcement of the Army. It's also the only other Normal Pendulum you can Normal Summon, giving you the incredible Rank 4 toolbox. My only gripe is that I wish it was a Pendulum Scale 7 or higher, but that's if I'm getting really nitpicky.

It's a solid card all around, sitting at 1800 ATK and searchable with Fire Formation – Tenki. It seems Konami's keen on making all of the Normal Pendulums searchable with generic searching Spells. With a Tenki-searchable card out of the way, I think it's safe to say the next support for the deck will be a boss monster, because there's no generic searcher left.

Changing Tactics
The last time I wrote about Normal Pendulums, the deck's goals were clear: set-up your Pendulum Scale and Pendulum Summon huge beaters to overwhelm your opponent. If you needed a boss monster, you had Fusion Substitute to Fusion Summon First of the Dragons. The incredible aspect of that play was that on-field Pendulum Fusion Materials would go to the Extra Deck where you could Summon them back next turn, or on the same turn if you already controlled two Normals to start. I also included Tuners for some super cool Azure-Eyes White Dragon plays. Both were awesomely deadly sequences that could end games on their own.

With the game already so different in just two short months, you can no longer rely on First of the Dragons or your Pendulum Scales to stick around. Fairy Wind is everywhere and Nekroz are so dang strong. So how do you keep up? That answer comes in two parts, but the first is an increase in traps.

Purple cards have fallen out of competitive play as of late, barring a Satellarknight deck or Qliphorts using Vanity's Emptiness and Skill Drain to seal games. Burning Abyss have trimmed down their lineup to run just a few copies of Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss, Phoenix Wing Wing Blast and maybe Vanity's Emptiness. This shift had a lot to do with Denko Sekka wreaking havoc on anyone who dare set cards, but with how fast the game is about to become, there's no other way to slow it down.

Skill Drain is still going to be your MVP trap and the newly reprinted Vanity's Emptiness is still strong in plenty of scenarios, but one card is stronger than it's been in months: Mirror Force.

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Mirror Force has been Unlimited for a while now and that's insane. It was Limited for as long as I can remember, and for good reason. However, Yu-Gi-Oh's in a weird place where graveyard effects are rampant and thanks to all Shaddoll and Burning Abyss monsters triggering effects off of a resolved Mirror Force, it always seemed like a bad choice. Dimensional Prison was always going to be stronger. That sentiment would always be true until another deck came along to dominate that didn't have overly powerful graveyard abilities. And that time is now.

When Qliphorts first hit the scene, I began siding two or three copies of Mirror Force in a lot of strategies. The Qliphort army's impervious to so many monster effects, that mass removal seemed like the best option to get them off the field. And it was a great idea. However – Shaddolls and Burning Abyss were still too popular and easily held their own against Qliphorts, so Mirror Force never caught on.

With the release of The Secret Forces there's a new bad boy in town: Nekroz. That deck's scary and consistent. And it summons multiple Rituals in a turn, often ending the game in one fell swoop. Unlike Burning Abyss and Shaddolls though, they don't really have double use in the graveyard; once they're dead they're dead. Sure, they can be Ritual Summoned from the graveyard, but they won't replace themselves or destroy anything else if they got smacked with a Mirror Force.

With Nekroz and Qliphort sure to be two of the top decks, Mirror Force is about to become really strong.

Increase In Speed
Despite playing more traps we still want to get our plays rolling quickly. Dragons of Draconia's Pendulum effect helps with that immensely, but because it's Level 4, it means we can safely run Rescue Rabbit. While Special Summoning Dragoons of Draconia with Rescue Rabbit isn't ideal, it can still save you and that's an important option to have. With three copies of Sabersaurus you'll have access to the ever-so powerful Evolzar Dolkka and Evolzar Laggia. Despite that tactic being well passed its prime, it's still a devastating opening play. You also have the ability to Special Summon two Flash Knights for Heroic Champion – Excalibur. That's important, because it deals with Apoqliphort Towers and to deal a quick 4000 damage.

Heart of the Underdog is still awesome and ensures that your Draw Phase won't net you only a Normal Monster. To increase the chances of drawing into a non-monster, I've trimmed back on the spells that search monsters. In my last build I ran Reinforcement of the Army, Summoner's Art and Fossil Dig to ensure I always had a Pendulum Scale. This time around we have an awesome Pendulum Monster that can do that for us, so I've only included Fire Formation – Tenki to get to it. Since the deck consists a lower amount of high-Scaled monsters, feel free to toss in a few Fossil Dig to find Lancephorhynchus or Sabersaurus if you can Xyz Summon an Evolzar.

Soul Transition helps with a slow start while Pot of Riches grants you a bit of longevity and works really well if you Rescue Rabbit into two Pendulum Monsters. Now that the changes are on the table, let's take a look at the list:

DECKID=101773This deck plays out much like the last version, but has more consistency and new changes to keep up with the competitive scene. Normal Pendulums are in desperate need of a themed boss monster, but for now you can make due with First of the Dragons and even Metaphys Horus if you wanted to toss in some Tuners.

Evolzar Dolkka's pretty nasty against Nekroz, while Skill Drain and Vanity's Emptiness will surely win you plenty of games. Like most Pendulum decks, you've got a huge stun aspect going for you, so I encourage you to embrace it.

Siding the likes of incredible cards like Mind Crush, Shared Ride and Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror will give you the best chances of winning any match.

How have you innovated with Normal Pendulums lately? Have you tried anything unusual that worked? What's your favorite deck out of The Secret Forces? And yes. It's okay if it's Nekroz. They're awesome.

-Pasquale Crociata