Hello! We meet again. This week we're back discussing another deck that I've written on previously, Tribute Stun.

Tribute Stun is always going to be one of those random decks that you can play for awhile until another strategy comes along that's just flat-out better. Then, when the better decks falls out of competition, you can pick up this deck again and go back to wrecking your opponents. It's just one of those things.

The concept of Tribute Stun was nothing too new when I came up with the idea back in October, but the approach I took was pretty unique. Before, the deck revolved largely around Light monsters that locked your opponents out of Special Summoning and activating their monsters effects. You dropped them on the field with Mausoleum of the Emperor, Photon Sanctuary and Soul Exchange. Then, you protected them at all cost with Royal Decree and Forbidden Lance. It was a sound strategy that captured some incredible tops at Regionals and even a YCS.

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But as the trend goes, the deck's performance dropped off and the deck stopped being played. While that was happening, Tribute-based decks slowly started to get incredible support in the form of March of the Monarchs, The Monarchs Stormforth and Return of the Monarchs. All three were incredible cards, and it wasn't until Shaddolls, Burning Abyss and Satellarknights came along in Duelist Alliance that I put all of the pieces together. I highly suggest taking a peak at the article from October. It's a pretty neat read.

After some awesome success with the deck, New Challengers hit the shelves, bringing with it Qliphorts; a deck that Tribute Stun just couldn't handle, and so it had to go away again. But now it's time to dust off those awesome Tribute Stun monsters and get ready, because with The Secret Forces now legal and two new powerful decks in Nekroz and Ritual Beasts at the helm, your Majesty's Fiend can once again shine on!

So I Heard You Wanted To Ritual Summon
Before Nekroz ever hit the TCG, I had a friend who bought the entire deck in Japanese. He just wanted to toy around with it at locals so when it was released in the TCG, he knew all of the combos and had a feel for it. One day, after winning my locals with Tribute Stun, he asked me to play for fun. I accepted and unbeknownst to me, he was playing Nekroz!

I had no idea what these things did, but had heard of their power. He started and began explaining to me what each Ritual did and how the deck functioned. I was blown away by how consistent it was.

But my deck didn't really care. After he searched for what felt like the thousandth time, he passed his turn. I simply activated Soul Exchange and he had no response. I then activated March of the Monarchs and Summoned Vanity's Fiend, using his Senju of the Thousand Hands as the Tribute. He quickly looked through his hand for an answer and had none. After a few turns of him doing virtually nothing…he scooped up his cards. Game 2 was much of the same, except this time he tried not Summoning a monster. Luckily for me, I had Jester Confit and Majesty's Fiend to seal the game.

We played like that for TEN matches and I won each of them 2-0. It was pretty remarkable. This deck that was dominating in the OCG, couldn't handle the set-up of Tribute Stun at all. If he had the one out, I had the Forbidden Lance. Otherwise, he was totally locked out by March of the Monarchs. I knew I'd have to put the deck away due to Qliphorts, but it was something I would have in my back pocket until Nekroz hit the TCG.

That Was Then, This Is Now
With the competitive scene slowly taking shape, it looks like the only viable decks are Nekroz, Qliphorts and Burning Abyss. You may still run into a Shaddoll or Satallerknight deck here or there, but for the majority of your major tournaments, it'll probably be one of those big three. And that's fantastic news for Tribute Stun!

The deck thrives against Nekroz and has a solid game against Burning Abyss. It eats Shaddolls alive and 'tellarknights aren't scary either. Qliphorts are terrible, but that's what a Side Deck's for.

So what's new? Back in October traps were huge and Qliphorts were non-existent. That was great, because it meant we could use Royal Decree, not use Mystical Space Typhoon, and fill in the gaps with Forbidden Lance. March of the Monarchs took care of the rest.

Things are a bit different now, because the spread of traps being played are almost entirely floodgates like Skill Drain and Vanity's Emptiness (which has no effect on this deck). Qliphorts are a thing, so Mystical Space Typhoon's a necessary evil and Fairy Wind is in every Side Deck, which doesn't bode well for your Continuous Spells.

Thankfully, where there are flaws, there are strengths as well. You no longer need Royal Decree since nobody runs traps, giving you some room for your own set of floodgates and real trap cards. Tenacity of the Monarchs exists, so it's easier to get to March and Stormforth. It also means you don't need a full suite of March. And Snatch Steal is awesome.

So what does this deck look like now? I'm glad you asked:

DECKID=101813This deck plays out a lot like it did before, but you have the cool searching power thanks to Tenacity. The goal is the same: summon a Fiend and have it stick for as long as possible.

The deck works and it works well. Majesty's Fiend shuts off the entire Nekroz engine and forces your opponent to Ritual Summon their big beaters, while gaining no ground in the process. However, lucky for you, you've got Forbidden Lance and Mirror Force waiting. Vanity's Fiend does the same, but your opponent can search their deck, in hopes of thinning for an answer. But no monster they Normal Summon can top your Vanity's Fiend. Also, not caring about Djinn Releaser of Rituals is freaking awesome!

The Burning Abyss deck has been losing to Vanity's Fiend and Majesty's Fiend for months now, but give those powerhouses the blanket protection of March of the Monarchs and there's very little the hellish creatures can do. No Book of Moon or Snatch Steal will save them. Heck, not even Dark Hole or Raigeki will work. Staring down either Fiend backed by March of the Monarchs is a pretty poor situation for any deck to be in.

Unfortunately you'll almost always lose Game 1 against Qliphorts, but that's a risk you'll have to take. It's also why I included a sample Side Deck designed to take down the Pendulum onslaught. I've typically been siding as follows:

-2 Soul Exchange
-3 Jester Confit
-3 Majesty Fiend
-1 Return of the Monarchs
-2 Tenacity of the Monarchs
-1 Caius the Mega Monarch
-2 Vanity's Emptiness

+3 Fire Hand
+3 Ice Hand
+3 Spell Shatterting Arrow
+1 Mystical Space Typhoon
+2 Cursed Seal of Forbidden Spell
+2 Royal Decree

How have you been preparing for the Nekroz deck? Any awesome straetegies you found to dominate Rituals? Are you attending any upcoming Regionals or Championships?

I should be at ARG Hartford and will be at YCS Chicago, so I hope to see you there!

-Pasquale Crociata