Legacy of the Valiant is finally legal for play, bringing a lot of theme support, niche single cards, and two really, really good Rank 4's. Normally you'll find me writing about different decks and strategies in my weekly Low Key column, but over the next two weeks I'd like to discuss two high impact Rank 4's recently released, starting with Number 101: Silent Honor ARK (SHARK). You can Summon this completely generic Xyz Monster in a variety of different decks, and today I'd like to cover not only the individual strengths of this godsend but also the practical applications that it has in tournament play right now.
A Good Time To Shark Your Opponent
The first time Number 101: Silent Honor ARK was used against me I cried for a week. I'd assumed my Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning was safe from all angles, not realizing that a Rank 4 out to almost any big monster was just announced. Silent Honor's effect is simple: you detach materials to do dirty, awful things to your opponent. Stealing any Special Summoned monster in attack position's bad enough, but Silent Honor likes to add insult to injury and use the stolen monster to protect itself from destruction. It essentially takes an opposing threat and uses it as a meat shield, and it's incredibly violating for all parties involved.
"But I worked hard for that Special Summon!" the people cry out.
"Oh you mean this Special Summon?" replies a laughing Silent Honor as it steals your monster.
The impact goes much further than the immediate gratification delivered when you activate its effect, too. There are quite literally hundreds of strategies that can churn out Rank 4's, putting Silent Honor into the "probably too accessible" category of Xyz Monsters. We're looking at a Rank 4 that's better than some archetypes' own Rank 4 boss monster, and that's just insane. Think back to the days when Number 16: Shock Master wasn't forbidden. Even if your deck was considered bad by most standards, if you could bring out Shock Master reliably there was a a high chance duels would tip in your favor anyways. I'm sure that Goblindbergh Turbo build little Timmy played was great and all, but it's safe to say a majority of his wins were a direct result of his ability to throw out Shock Master at the drop of the hat.
It's the same deal with Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, albeit toned down by several degrees. If your deck can make Rank 4's (see: 80% of all decks ever), then it's now a very real threat. A monster that would have previously been considered to create a strong field position, like Stardust Dragon, Maestroke the Symphony Djinn, or Star Eater, is now entirely susceptible to anything playing Silent Honor. Before Legacy of the Valiant there weren't any easy plays to get around large or indestructible monsters. Making Gagaga Cowboy in attack mode to run something over left you in a bad spot, and often taking a minus with Wolf' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Diamond Dire Wolf">Diamond Dire Wolf ended up screwing you over in the end. Now, not only do you not have to play a less than ideal Xyz, you'll actually be making a stellar, versatile engine of destruction.
So…What Can Play It?
Everything! Well, not everything, but close. Anything that has the capacity to Summon two Level 4's at the same time can and should be playing Number 101: Silent Honor ARK. Crystal Beasts, Infernities, Spirits, Gadgets, Zombies, Fire Fist, Fire Kings, and dozens, perhaps hundreds of other strategies can use it. Generic Rank 4's are some of the easiest Xyz Monsters to bring out, which is good for people wanting to find a use for Silent Honor.
Behind the mindset of "shove this in everything" there are a few cool ways to abuse Silent Honor. The most obvious is that it's a Water monster, opening up Atlantean Mermail plays. Detaching an Atlantean Dragoons to not only steal a monster, but also get a search in the process is just brutal. I can't promise that Silent Honor's going to be better than Bahamut Shark in every situation, but it's always nice to have options in a strategy that's already so versatile.
I'd say that Silent Honor also breathes new life into Masked Chameleon variants. No deck's quite as good at cranking out Rank 4's, and with a new Xyz that eliminates almost every problematic monster around I can see those strategies doing better than ever.
You're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
One of the more noticeable changes Silent Honor's going to bring about is how players Special Summon. Number 101: Silent Honor ARK's decently new right now, but after a few weeks it'll be in Extra Decks everywhere. Special Summoning a high ATK monster without any protection is just asking to get sharked, and I think we'll see a trend of duelists losing matches because they failed to prepare accordingly.
Long term though, this could create a serious change in how you think when you're playing against something that pulls out Rank 4's. Huge monsters like Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning and Judgment Dragon aren't as safe when Silent Honor can just steal them up. Weighing the options of your opponent topdecking a Masked Chameleon, Rescue Rabbit, or any number of different Xyz enablers is going to be a real thing, and players who don't adjust to that are going to take some losses.
I feel like Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning's the best example of this, so I'd like to delve into it a little more. Given a situation where you can BLS over two opposing monsters but not win that turn, is it worth it? Under normal circumstances that question would almost always get a yes: 3000 ATK's pretty darn big for any non-themed Xyz to get over, and your opponent would probably default to using Wolf' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Diamond Dire Wolf">Diamond Dire Wolf or Gagaga Cowboy, both requiring your opponent to take a -1. But with Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, your simple topdecked sacky BLS play could come to a screeching halt. Not only could your opponent take your monster as an Xyz Material, but now you've got to deal with a 2100 ATK beater that has to be destroyed twice.
Speaking of, you don't technically even need to steal monsters with Silent Honor to get your money's worth out of it. Similar to Maestroke the Symphony Djinn, you can detach a material instead of destroying Silent Honor, so your opponent has to get over it three times to take it out. This makes it not only a solid comeback play, but also a great first turn move. It essentially draws out destruction because the longer it's left with two Material the more dangerous it is. I've watched duelists on multiple occasions waste a destruction effect just to make sure Silent Honor's one Material short of stealing a monster. Any time that your card forces your opponent to make plays that are that awkward you're in a good spot; you can't overlook that basic utility.
I know I'm playing Number 101: Silent Honor ARK in almost every strategy that can support it going forward, but what do you think? Did I miss something you want to call attention to? Please, post your thoughts in the Comment section below!
Article Aftermath #29