Last week I spent some time discussing the first of the new generic Rank 4 Xyz in Legacy of the Valiant, Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, which you can check out here. Honor ARK's one of my favorite monsters in the set, not only creating huge swings of momentum but also acting as a better version of Maestroke the Symphony Djinn, grinding through multiple back rows at a time.

Today's monster, Evilswarm Exciton Knight, is the other side of the coin. Basically it clears the field whenever you have fewer cards overall than your opponent. While there are some people whining about how Exciton Knight rewards less experienced players for playing aggressively and thus being low on card advantage, I'm definitely a firm believer that it does more good for the game than you might first suspect.

No Survivors
One of the cooler aspects of Evilswarm Exciton Knight is that it's a Quick Effect. That means you have to option of chaining it to cards during your Main Phase or your opponent's Battle Phase. Bottomless Trap Hole, Torrential Tribute, and similar traps all fall to the might of Exciton Knight. Even cards like Fiendish Chain and Compulsory Evacuation Device have to be chained to the action itself, as preemptive responses will just get blown away. Some of its power lies in your opponent's inability to play around Exciton Knight's effect, and that's going to be a recurring theme throughout this article. The effect seems fairly linear on the surface, but in reality it's incredibly versatile and really difficult to stop if you time it correctly.

The bonus of being able to use Exciton Knight's effect during your opponent's Battle Phase throws an interesting dynamic into the mix. It's not a one and done monster like Black Rose Dragon: it might be slightly weaker in the ATK department, but the fact that it remains on the field instead of destroying itself more than makes up for the 500 ATK difference. If the first field clear goes through you're already in a good position: you went from being down in cards to probably being even at the very least. Passing to your opponent may put them up a card from their Draw Phase, forcing them to either take care of Exciton Knight immediately or get rid of it before attacking.

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That's where the real fun begins. Leveling the board once is already amazing. Should you be in the mid or late game, though, both players will be running low on cards. If your opponent can't get over Exciton Knight before their Battle Phase, they simply can't do anything about it. As if that wasn't enough, Exciton Knight wards off any commitment to the field, just because it's constantly threatening to blow everything up.

Does Anyone Even Know What 'Exciton' Means?
Much like Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, Evilswarm Exciton Knight finds its way into a variety of strategies. It's an accessible, game-changing Rank 4 that excels in all the right ways. There are lots of cool combos with it, too. It's technically an Evilswarm monster, and a Light attribute one at that. This means it can take care of Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror on the fly – a huge boost for an extremely straightforward archetype. There's also a powerful play that goes like this: Special Summon Evilswarm Mandragora and Normal Summon Evilswarm Castor to go into Exciton Knight. Proceed to destroy everything, and then follow up with Evilswarm Kerkyion, banishing an Evilswarm to Normal Summon another one. You end with Evilswarm Exciton Knight on the field plus another Rank 4 of your choice. Should you choose Evilswarm Ophion you can grab Infestation Pandemic from your deck to further your position in the duel. It's an insane combo, and it can and will end games when your opponent isn't prepared.

In a similar scenario, Exciton Knight works beautifully with Spirit Monsters. Setting a Nikitama and having it survive gives you two Normal Summons on the following turn. Overlaying for Exciton Knight, blowing everything up, and then Normal Summoning Izanami or Aratama to gain even more card advantage is just brutal. Duelists will usually try to OTK a Spirit deck as quickly as possible because almost every strategy will lose a long, drawn out battle against them due to the Spirit theme's wealth of search and draw power, but Exciton Knight punishes that type of play. It's just too good.

I'm also really enjoying Exciton Knight against two of the big decks right now: Fire Fists and Atlantean Mermail. Fire Fists leave a bunch of Fire Formations on the field, so your opponent will almost always have more cards than you. Exciton Knight just kind of shrugs it all off while it watches everything burn to the ground. Against Atlantean Mermail you can bait out an Abyss-sphere and then clear the field. Actually, the only time I really don't like Exciton Knight against that deck is when they go for their Bahamut Shark, Mechquipped Angineer, and Mermail Abysstrite play (which generally only happens if your opponent's playing an Aqua Spirit variant anyway). Number 101: Silent Honor ARK is much better for dealing with that setup.

Changing The World One Rank 4 At A Time
Over the past two years or so, it's been highly debated whether going first in Yu-Gi-Oh! is inherently overpowered. While you can't attack when you go first, you do get to draw, and you'll theoretically always come out on top in card economy: when you're the aggressor, you'll have an additional card to bolster your attacks or make more combos. Exciton Knight's pretty much a giant middle finger to that idea. Should you find yourself losing the die roll more often than not, Exciton Knight will pull you back into the game, often catapulting you ahead.

Mass removal isn't very prominent in current competition. Black Rose Dragon isn't dropping nearly as much, Heavy Storm's Forbidden, and Judgment Dragon isn't quite consistent enough to be a threat. Simply put: people are setting all of their cards face-down without any defense. That's good for Exciton Knight and bad for your opponent's emotional well-being. Trap Stun furthers this kind of game plan, and it's arguably the best pairing for Exciton Knight. Not only does it shut off a majority of your opponent's potential counters, it's also a quick -1 of card economy, helping you lower your card presence to make Exciton Knight's ability usable.

Once again, drawing comparisons from Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, Exciton Knight is going to change the way people play. Silent Honor forces your opponent to think about the position they're Special Summoning monsters in, but Exciton Knight's completely redefining how we go about committing cards to the field. Setting multiple Mystical Space Typhoons face-down is a good idea against Fire Fists, stopping them before they get a chance to search a bunch of cards, but that's equally horrible against a potential Exciton Knight. That kind of duality can be found all over the place, and players are going to have to carefully weigh their options when making critical decisions.

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At the end of the day we're looking at a very different game post-Legacy than pre-Legacy. However, this isn't like the change that we endured with Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy. That set gave us tons of powerful cards, namely the Dragon Rulers. They influenced the game alright, but more in the sense of establishing overwhelming match-ups right up front, instead of adding universal levels of complexity. Legacy brings more of a background change. Numerous cards in the set, not just Evilswarm Exciton Knight and Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, will change the flow of the average duel in ways that will affect us for months, possibly even years as the game moves forward.

Giving players the ability to have such a diversity of outs to different threats and situations is an interesting approach to set design. Only time will tell how much is actually affected, but I for one am in favor of some new ways of thinking in this game. Do you like the cards brought to us in Legacy of the Valiant? How about Exciton Knight and Silent Honor? Let me know in the Comments below!

-Doug Zeeff
Article Aftermath #30